This morning one of our employees asked me to handle a situation for her. She had to switch a driver from a brand new shiny, beautiful tractor into an older dusty, dirty tractor. The switch was for a recall and required maintenance. Already knowing the answer, I asked her why she needed my help?
Her response as expected, “He is miserable and grumpy. He’ll complain and give me a hard time. He’ll probably call off work the rest of the week.” I told her she'd do fine and I’d help if need be.
I happened to be outside when he drove up in his personal vehicle so I stopped him to say hello. We discussed the warranty issues and the tractor he was to drive and everything was great. He had no issues and understood completely. He even said he would stay with the old tractor until his was fixed completely.
This leads me back to the title of this post. This particular driver is labeled as grumpy, miserable, hard to deal with, and many other descriptions which are similar. Yet to me he is easy to get along with, but it was not always this way. What changed?
The way I handled him changed. By refusing to buy in to other's opinions about him I formed a relationship with him over time. He trusts me and knows he can talk with me and I’ll listen.
Building trust in any relationship takes time and effort—by both parties. I contend people reflect our attitude toward them back on us. When we are happy, others usually reply with a happy response. When we are unhappy, we get unhappiness back.
We can’t change or control what others think, say, or do. We can control how we react. We can also control how we approach others. Stephen Covey puts it this way, "We can act, or be acted upon." He also states, "Between stimulus and response, man has the power to choose."
So what is our choice? We can either respond with in kind and perpetuate the tension or use the Platinum rule, which states, Treat others the way they want to be treated.
Once you master this you’ll reap the joyful fruit of blossoming friendships instead of the prickly thorns of poor relations.