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If you can’t control your reaction, what can you control? #JobSearch

June 21st, 2011

A few weeks ago my wife and I were running errands.  We had been to several stores and were deep in conversation when we were finally entering Barnes and Noble.  There was a nice guy holding the door open for us, as he was leaving.

I was seriously deep in conversation with my wife when we walked through the door, and didn’t think twice about him.

As I walked through the door he shouted “YOU ARE WELCOME, A-HOLE!”

I was totally shocked.  His 15 year old son looked totally shocked and embarrassed, too.

He continued to walk towards the parking lot, shaking his head, and complaining loudly that my wife and I didn’t even acknowledge his good deed.

As I was trying to make sense of what just happened I thought “man, if he was waiting for a thanks, which we should have given him (but didn’t), he was holding the door for the wrong reason.  He should have relished in giving the service and not been offended at the lack of (expressed) appreciation.”

I couldn’t believe he was SO offended, and that our lack of reaction caused an eruption from him.

I thought: how juvenile for him to let our actions dictate his reaction.

As I thought about all of this I found my own reaction getting uglier and uglier.

And then I realized I was letting his actions dictate my own reactions.  My mood changed, all because of him.

While I didn’t want his reaction to change my demeanor and affect the pleasant afternoon with my wife, I could see myself slipping into a bad place.

With a lot of effort, I tried to push him, and that event, out of my mind, and be back with my wife.

It was hard, but I knew that I couldn’t let him ruin my day.

Many times things happen to us, but they don’t have to dictate how we react.  How we react is OUR choice.

Don’t let someone, or something, make you worse, even for a minute!

(Yes, I’ll be working on this idea for many, many years :))

5 Comments »

5 responses to “If you can’t control your reaction, what can you control? #JobSearch”

  1. I can TOTALLY relate to both of you. I’m a door opener myself, and much of the time I don’t get a thanks, but when I don’t I think to myself, “they probably didn’t notice or they were deep in thought”. We have to remember that much fo the time as we go from place to place, whether it is driving or walking, we can get in this “zone” where we’re thinking about the day’s events, the kids, work, the future and anything else that we need to digest.

    Many times I don’t notice basic things that happen around me when I’m in this zone. Its like Auto Pilot. I just imagine other people do so sometimes as well.

    But its not so much dont let other people’s actions dictate yours, its more like (for me) don’t let other people’s zombie status make you think they’re ungrateful for your good deed.

    Great posting.

  2. Ed Fox says:

    Trying looking at it from another point of view. You both expected something from each other that you were not able to give. He wanted a thank you and you want him to understand that you were not rude but busy. If you didn’t believe that you had done something wrong you would have been able to laugh it off. Yes you are right you are always in control… Great Post

    Ed Fox

  3. Mike says:

    Yesterday I was shopping in a store with very narrow aisles. As I entered a new aisle, a man and woman were in the middle of the aisle and I could not get by them.

    As I approached, I stopped, the man blocking the aisle moves his cart and I passed.

    This followed him him saying loudly two times, you’re welcome!

    I felt he was being rude for blocking the aisle.
    He thought I was rude for not thanking him for moving his cart.

  4. Steve Duncan says:

    Communication is the second hardest thing we do, after change.

    Giving others a courtesy, like opening a door, is much easier by comparison. But it’s funny that when we wrack our brains for the right thing to say we don’t expect gratitude from the person we’re communicating with. We’re happy just to get through it successfully.

    But the door that even my 6-year old could open somehow demands thanks and tribute.

    Not sure why we’re wired that way.

    Of course, the control thing applies to both sides. He could have just shrugged, been content he’d done the right thing, modeled good behavior for his son and gone home.

  5. thom singer says:

    It is like driving in traffic. Let a car merge into your lane in Texas and you get the courtesy wave. Let someone merge in California and New York… you get no wave. Wait, sometimes you get a wave, but there is only one finger involved on that hand.