Tactical Tip#107 Navigating the Squirrels of Life

There they go again, Darting all over the highway like a bunch of confused squirrels all over the road looking for nuts! Truth is you have found the nuts and it’s them! This morning as we get into our cars and enter the highways, I’m sure many of you may have noticed that people are passing and pushing on the right, the designated turning, merging and slow lane!  We older folks raised with the DVM rules properly pounded into our heads by our folks, know that for many reasons, i.e., it’s rude and it’s unsafe, not to do it! However; with the influx of youth, immigration from other countries with different driving rules and a general breakdown of civility, especially in more congested areas, it has become a huge problem for those of us that follow the rules. First it makes our blood boil as we nearly avoid accidents and second it makes us want to seek revenge, a sort of” pay it forward” of bad manners.

Tactically this is what you do, first, create space between you and every car, sure someone will take up that space but it gives you reaction time to take evasive action to either break or speed up.  You are also taking the moral high ground, this keeps you from emotionally getting sucked in to the chain reaction of “paying bad manners forward” to “right a wrong” or “feel better” about being aggressively attacked on the highways.  Paying bad manners forward might make one feel better for a while, but you are now going to be burdened withknowing the next person is going to have the same attitude sending a “pay it forward” mentality of bad manners exponentially down the road. This principle also applies to the office, home or relationships. Knowing and anticipating human behavior, i.e. bad manners, puts you in a position of advantage you can now start to be proactive rather than reactive, thereby creating both physical and emotional distance. Studies have shown that people who live a proactive life are far happier and calmer. So as you enter the highway of life today, take a step back, when the inevitable, anticipatedinconsiderate squirrel cuts you off on the road or in conversation know that their just looking for nuts and you’re not one  going to be one of them!

Tactical Tip #106 The Momentum Behind Good Manners

Reactive: Remember the last time you came away from a conversation feeling drained, mugged even?   Someone came up to you and either asked you what the latest gossip was, or what you were up to and then walked away before you could emit one syllable out of your mouth.  We used to call these bad manners. Then there are those that are naysayers, you try and find something beautiful in the day, and they just squash it. There are many reasons for this, perhaps because they are just a difficult person or because they are seeking power over others, or maybe they were born in a bad mood, in any of these cases, you leave the conversation with your defenses dropped, you just feel, blah..Sometimes the affects of all this negative talk touch you to  your core, right down to your relationships, or to your workday.

Proactive: My solution, politely excuse yourself, that’s it, really simple.  Dale Carnegie wrote his bestselling book, “How to Win Friends and Influence people,” back in 1936, it has been a staple for speakers, writers and managers for decades.    The reason is, in his own words, “you can’t gather honey if you kick over the bee hive.” What he is saying is that nothing good can come of bad conversation. I’ve tried this experiment often, when I find a conversation digressing, I try one of two things, either to steer it in a positive direction or excuse myself. The momentum you create by demonstrating good manners and taking the moral high ground can take strength. But then something unseen happens, but its felt,  you feel empowered.   And that is what being a little more tactical is all about.