I get it. People are a pain. Employees. Customers. Random people in the store.

Not you, of course. You’re perfect. But everybody else is so annoying sometimes!

So how do we deal with this reality? Well, first, it’s about recognizing that this is the human condition. We’re all flawed and make mistakes.

In addition, we come from different backgrounds and upbringing. So our expectations of “proper behavior” end up quite different.

But, most important, we make mistakes and have bad days. I’ve been getting a huge influx of calls about medical insurance, because I’ll turn 65 next year. I’ve found myself getting more and more testy with the callers. It’s not their fault; it’s something that’s happening in my life.

But I can see how I might be coming across as more and more brittle. I’m trying to work on that.

If you realize that folks in your world might be just having a bad day, it really helps to be more compassionate. They didn’t get a good night’s sleep. The dog’s sick. Someone cut them off in traffic.

It doesn’t matter, really. It happens to all of us, so there’s no reason that I should respond in a way which just escalates whatever negativity is going on.

You also know people who seem to be permanently stuck in that mode. Maybe even family or a boss. Sometimes you might be able to escape interaction, but other times you don’t feel like you have a choice.

I’ve found the most powerful tool is to simply realize that my interaction with them says a lot more about me than whatever they said. If I can help make disagreements more gentle and reduce the anxiety, then I am developing some powerful skills and becoming the person I want to be.

At least that’s what I’m working on. It’s a journey.