“Mom, what is wrong with people?” my daughter asked me in a defeated and frustrated tone. “Why don’t people do what they say they are going to do?” she continued. “He didn’t even bother to call.” Her heat had been broken for two weeks in the dead of winter, and the HVAC tech that was scheduled to come out was a no show yet again (for the fourth time in a row and she was freezing). Now she may have been referring to a specific situation regarding her heat, but her questions were valid.
I sat silent for a minute thinking about what she had said. “Mom, are you there?” she asked after about two minutes. “Yes, I am just thinking about what you said,” I replied. The truth is, what she was asking me boiled down to respect – respect for others, respect for ourselves, and respect for our work. Life is full of HVAC techs that do not show up and do not call to apologize. The lesson to be learned is how to not let others’ incompetency or complete disregard for others affect you.
I told her that it is more than okay to feel disappointed and frustrated when people disappoint and frustrate you, but that it is important to not take it personally and to move on and figure out another path to journey down. I gave her five minutes to rant and get it out of her system. Once she cooled down, I asked if she wanted my opinion (I always ask before I offer it because sometimes people want to vent and other times people want solutions, and I am not a mind reader). She wanted my opinion.
I told her that there was no point in reaching out to this tech again as that road seemed to be a dead-end after four failed attempts. We brainstormed a bit about solutions, instead of going over the problem again. After about 30 minutes we had gotten the name of two independent HVAC specialists (one from Google and the other from her law school classmate). She emailed her landlord asking for a return phone call. The landlord called about 20 minutes later and they had a productive human-to-human conversation, whereby the landlord agreed to coordinate billing for one of the new techs she found and pay for a hotel nearby until the heat was fixed (that law school education came in handy). She hung up and exhaled (for the first time in about two weeks).
When we get frustrated by things and people outside of our control, it is important to take a moment to pause and regroup. We need to get to a calm place where we can think clearly and come up with solutions. Going over what keeps going wrong only ingrains that message further into our brains. Rather, shake it off, and instead of trying to fight through closed doors, look for a window that is slightly ajar to open and climb through. We cannot change others, we can only shift ourselves and how we react and interact with others. So, if you want to get a positive result, approach with positivity.