Dr Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip — How to keep your cool around rude and ignorant people + Fear, Stress, Confidence and the Battle for Your Mind

How to keep your cool around rude and ignorant people

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We’re at the boiling point in many families, many companies, and in many nations. There has never been a time in history when there has been MORE communication but LESS connection.

And if you’ve watched any TV news, listened to any talk radio, or read any social media posts lately, you’re probably shocked by the rudeness, ignorance, disrespect, hypocrisy, threats, putdowns, and name-calling that has almost become the norm rather than the exception.

We’ve arrived at the very time American poet Carl Sandburg predicted. He said:

“If the facts are against you, argue the law.

If the law is against you, argue the facts.

If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”

If you’re around difficult people or are getting sick of their communication style and behavior, here are a few things you can do to keep your cool.

► 1. Use more “we” and “us” language.

Words make a huge difference. When you talk about “we” and “us,” you’re encouraging cooperation and reinforcing inclusion. You’re saying, in effect, “We’re connected. We’re in this together.”

Just the opposite happens if you have too many “I’s” and “you’s” in your conversation. Your communication focuses on your differences. It focuses on areas of disagreement, dissent, and disapproval.

And from my point of view, public discourse has fallen into this destructive pit. Instead of referring to Americans as Americans, the media pits us against one another. As Lee Iaccoca, the former chairman of the Chrysler Corporation, noted, “We are no longer Republicans and Democrats. We are what the media calls ‘special interests’.”

And the same criticism can be and should be leveled at Congress. As Iaccoca went on to ask, “Ever notice that the members of Congress call those who agree with them ‘constituents’ and all those who disagree with them ‘special interests’?” It’s outrageous, and it’s destructive.”

The same goes for your communication at work or at home. Whenever you use or overuse “I” and “you” language, you create a disconnect. Start using more “we” and “us” to connect with other people.

Just as important as the words that come out of your mouth are the words you say in your head … because you will never rise above your own self-talk. It’s one the practices you will learn at my live, virtual Champion Edge Master Class starting on September 3rd. Register now for one of the few remaining seats.

► 2. Find some common ground.

Robert Anderson says in his book, Solitaire and Double Solitaire, “In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for your marriage.”

The same “trick” is to find grounds for continuing your friendships, your team, and even our country. Remind yourself that it’s more important to have a working relationship than demand you have everything your way and a non-existent relationship.

► 3. Understand rather than judge those who think they’re always right.

I’m sure you know some people who always think they’re right. You even see them on the news every night. But you need to realize one thing: A person who never changes his mind is either stubborn or stupid.

You need to understand what’s driving them. You may think that a person who stubbornly refuses to change his mind must be a mighty strong person. Not so. Stubbornness is often a sign of insecurity.

A secure person, on the other hand, knows he doesn’t know everything. He knows there is always more to learn and there is always two ways of seeing things. That insight gives him the strength to change his mind when new information suggests a change of mind would be appropriate.

It’s like the two monks on a journey. As they approached a river, they saw a woman standing at the river’s edge, unable to cross. Despite the fact they had taken vows never to touch a woman, one of the monks put the woman on his shoulder and carried her across the river.

When they reached the other side and continued their journey, the critical monk lashed out at the other for breaking his vows. He went on and on, criticizing his travel companion, until finally the helpful monk said, “Brother, I set her down at the river’s edge. You’re still carrying her.” One monk had let go, but the other had not.

► 4. Don’t spend too much time responding to habitual critics.

That doesn’t mean you should shut out all negative feedback. If you did that you would never grow. If a critic has the right intentions, by all means listen to what he or she has to say. Abraham Lincoln said, “He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help.”

Just don’t spend too much time and energy on the habitual critics. I learned that when I first started to write these Tuesday Tips.

Even though these Tips are read by more than 50,000 people across the world every week, and even though the positive feedback has been overwhelming, I’ll never forget one habitual critic. He sent me several long, highly negative e-mails.

I sat down at my computer to reply to one of his many critical letters. I really worked on my reply. I wrote and rewrote my comments. For more than an hour I carefully reworked my letter to give the kindest, most professional response I could. And I still wasn’t satisfied with my response.

Then it dawned on me. I never spent an entire hour writing a letter to my parents, two of the most important people in the world to me. They sacrificed everything they had in life to make sure I had upright values, a solid education, and a chance to be more successful than they were. They never went to fancy restaurants, bought new cars, or shopped at the expensive stores. They always put my needs ahead of their wants.

It hit me. I had not spent that much time writing to two of the dearest people I know. And here I was sweating over how to respond to a habitual critic. I realized I was a fool. I threw away the letter and went on to some higher priorities.

Fear, Stress, Confidence and the Battle for Your Mind

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Some years ago, one of my siblings was convicted and sent to prison where he served two years’ time. I went to visit him frequently, but I have to tell you … nothing you see on TV or in the movies can prepare you for what it’s really like in there. And even though I got to talk to my brother … on the telephone … with a glass wall separating us … I experienced a tremendous sense of separation, depression, and helplessness.

Today there are millions of people in this country and around the world experiencing the same feelings. Whether it’s the COVID pandemic, the economic fallout, the rising rate of crime, or the increased mental illnesses at home, fear and stress have got lots of people locked up in the prison of fear and stress.

They’ve lost their confidence. And that’s very dangerous. As lexicographer Pierre-Claude-Victor Boiste (1765-1824) wrote, “He who has lost confidence can lose nothing else.” In other words, you’ve hit bottom. You’ve lost it all.

To win the battle for your mind, this is what you need to do.

► 1. Recognize the power of Steadfast Confidence.

Psychologist Dr. Denis Waitley wrote in his book, The Seeds of Greatness, “If you believe you can, you probably can. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.”

And Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian Nationalist leader, freed his entire country because he understood the power of confidence. He said, “If I shall have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.”

Of course, you may agree with the super power of confidence but aren’t sure how to get it. One option is to join my live, virtual, 5-week class, The Champion Edge Master Class starting on September 3.

► 2. Act with confidence.

One of the most basic, reliable facts in psychology is the act-as-if principle. If you start to act a certain way, you will begin to feel and be that way.

Coach Barbara Pachter says, “If you act confidently, others will perceive you that way (even if that’s not how you feel on the inside). Eventually you will feel more confident and the inside will match the outside.”

So begin to walk and talk with confidence, whether or not you feel like it.

Just to be clear. I’m not suggesting that you try to be somebody else. That would be a put down on yourself. As entertainer Aida Overton Walker (1880-1914) pointed out, “Unless we learn the lesson of self-appreciation and practice it, we shall spend our lives imitating other people and deprecating ourselves.”

All I’m saying is that you need to behave as though you have the confidence you desire. Eventually, that’s who you will become … a confident human being.

► 3. Think more confident thoughts.

These are tough times. No question about it. But some people are losing the battle for their minds because they’re constantly thinking such things as “I’m so stressed out … I can’t take much more of this … I don’t know what I’m going to do … What if I get COVID … What if I lose my job … What if a certain candidate wins the election” and so on.

If that sounds like you, STOP IT! Fear and stress are taking over. You’re losing the battle for your mind. Every one of those thoughts destroys another piece of your confidence.

Instead, start thinking more of these thoughts. “I am confident … I can handle this … I’ve gotten through tough times in the past and I can get through this …” and so forth. They will help you build the confidence you need to keep on keeping on.

Dr. Walter Doyle Staples, a human potential expert, explained the process this way:

  • When you change your thinking,
  • You change your beliefs.
  • When you change your beliefs,
  • You change your expectations
  • When you change your expectations,
  • You change your attitude.
  • When you change your attitude,
  • You change your behavior.
  • When you change your behavior,
  • You change your performance.
  • When you change your performance,
  • You change your life!

► 4. Look for and document the positive.

Otherwise, you can feel like the comedy writer Robert Orben who said, “Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that’s not true. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.”

That’s why you may need to look for and document the positive things that can fortify your confidence in the midst of this battle for your mind. 

One of my students, Jill Weston from the Mayo Clinic took my technique to heart, with wonderful results. She wrote, “There was such negativity and ungratefulness in my home that I knew I had to do something different or else die trying. I decided to start a gratitude journal with my children. Each night I asked each one of my kids to spend two minutes with me and fill out a piece of paper that asked them to list at least one thing they were good at … or liked doing … or one thing they did to help someone else that day … and then list one thing they were grateful for. It was amazing what happened.”

“After a few weeks,” Jill continued, “self-esteem sky rocketed because my children were seeing and affirming the goodness that each one of them possessed. The contention in the home lessened and we all felt more thankful for the blessings in our lives which brought more peace and happiness to our home and our lives.”

Final Thought: There’s a battle going on for your mind. Fear and stress are trying to take control, but you win when your mind is filled with Steadfast Confidence.FacebookTwitterLinkedInShare