Tolerance to Exasperation and Back Again

I deserve the benefit of the doubt when I did that thing, the one that made you puff up your cheeks and expel the air loudly within my earshot.  You see, I was dealing with a difficult issue, so I deserved special consideration.  I know that you rolled your eyes and said something nasty about me to your seatmate too, don’t think that I don’t.  I deserve tolerance, I don’t know why you can’t see that.


Now, when you are dealing with a difficult issue, I am well within my rights to be exasperated with you because you always need special consideration and that is just getting old, you know.


Did you see yourself in these last two paragraphs, even just a little hint?  I hope so, it is called being human.  We know the details of our own circumstances and therefore can list why we deserve tolerance and the benefit of the doubt when something comes up.  But we are well within our rights to act put out when someone else comes along and wants special treatment because it is making our life more difficult.


Do you remember George Carlin’s bit about driving – how we all believe that we, ourselves, are an excellent driver but that the majority of others on the road are quite incapable?  Statistically we simply can’t all be above average.  (Because that would raise the average, you see.)


Then you add in that tricky confirmation bias – where you only see/hear/notice the parts of the situation that reinforce your own belief about your deserved need for tolerance or your righteous exasperation.  Whew, it is sometimes a wonder that we humans ever managed to get beyond living alone in caves and working all by our lonesome in some corner of the world.


Despite the fact that I use my writerly powers of observation to watch the tolerance/exasperation pendulum swing in plenty of interactions that I am not actively participating in on a daily basis, I am still subject to the same tendencies when I’m in the thick of a situation.  If I see myself barreling into the land of exasperation I will do my best to divert, stop short or turn around.  If I don’t see until through hindsight, I will devise some type of atonement in hopes of paying it backward in some cosmic way.


My main tool, when I am on my game, is to seek for clues of inclusion with the person or persons with whom I am sharing a space regardless of the amount of time that we may share that space.  By inclusion, I mean what we have in common, how we are sharing this human experience in a way that we could each recognize and nod knowingly.  If I see something of myself in you, then I am more willing to fall on the tolerant side of the spectrum.


Mr. Fred Rogers, that original paragon of niceness and inclusion, reminded us that we should think about what the other person might have been through that day or week or recently before passing judgment.  And it is quite true that as real as our own problems are to us, everyone else’s are just as real to them.


© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations


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