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Impact of Others’ Attitudes on us

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Impact of Others’ Attitudes on us

Unless you are planning to take Sanyas and live on top of the Himalayas, you have to interact with different types of people on a regular basis. Each person has his or her own attitude, which may or may not match with yours. Some may be very rigid in their thinking, and just not open to any suggestions. When you encounter such people, first review whether you too are being rigid or dogmatic. Only after you can reassure yourself that you do not belong to this category, you can deal with others harmoniously.

Start with understanding the fact that since attitude develops over a long time, it is usually deeply ingrained, and cannot be changed overnight. It is foolish to try to change a person’s attitude by force. Ignorant teachers try to force their students to think differently and behave in an acceptable manner. Bosses lay down rules to force employees to be courteous to customers. Parents threaten their children to respect their elders. In each of these cases, they may get forced compliance because they are in position of authority, but if the person has not changed his attitude (and most likely he has not, because no one changes attitude under duress from authority).

When the authority is removed, the persons go back to their earlier behavior, sometimes even worse. The net result in the long term is worse, and more so because the authority figure was complacent that he has achieved results. It is a situation as per the proverb, “Under compulsion, people do what is inspected, not what is expected.”

You may have had situations where you strongly felt something like this: “Yes, he did oblige me, but somehow I did not like his attitude. It looked as though he is doing it forcibly.” This shows how much importance we give to the demeanor of the person, even though we are getting our work done. You would not like to go to a shop that sells good products but has a grouchy shopkeeper. You will not go out of the way to cooperate with a colleague who is efficient but gives an impression that he is superior. Similarly, you are introduced to a person and feel that there are common areas of interest, but you don’t take the initiative of interacting further because you feel he has an attitude that is putting you off.

Whenever you find someone with a wrong attitude (make sure that “wrong” is not just your perception), never try to force the person to change. Even a person with a high ego can be won over only when he feels the inner urge for change, not by someone pointing out that he is wrong. Hence if you are genuinely concerned about an individual who seems to have developed a wrong attitude, try and bring about that inner urge for change. And better than that – see if you can change your own attitude towards the person! Repeatedly question yourself whether you are being too strict or judgmental. When two persons differ it is quite likely that each of them thinks that the other has a wrong attitude, so let the change begin within yourself and try to bridge the gap.

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