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Faith WoodDo you:

1: Never miss an opportunity to educate those around you? Call attention to mistakes they have made and make sure everyone else knows about those mistakes?. Don’t hesitate to point out when someone (a colleague, an employee, the clerk at the local hardware store, an airline pilot, the prime minister) is wrong and how you could do a much better job?

2: Ignore petty criticisms? Believe that people who complain to or about you don’t know what they are talking about? When your boss speaks with you about some perceived problem, you smile, nod and then continue to do exactly what you have been doing all along?

3: Always keep people waiting? Believe that people should just be grateful that you squeezed them into your already overflowing schedule? If you are late for a meeting, you walk in, sit down, smile and say, ‘So sorry – an emergency and I was the only one who could help ‘?

4: Always leave your cell phone on during meetings? When it rings or buzzes, you look at the display and say, ‘I’d better take this,’ as you answer? Believes texting during meetings is also acceptable?

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5: Delegate the majority of your own work, believing it is not a shirking of your responsibilities but a way of providing others an opportunity to learn and grow while you oversee their efforts naturally? (Always ready to critique and provide suggestions, of course).

6: Never apologize because you believe you are never wrong? If pushed, you say, ‘I’m so sorry that you don’t seem to understand. I’m sure enlightenment will come your way at some point in the future’?

7: Believe that downtime is a must for people who wish to continue to be successful, so you leave the office early on Fridays or before holidays? If anyone questions this habit, you remind them that your sleep and your relaxation time are necessary for you to continue to perform at the highest levels?

We all know someone like this. (You may even have exhibited these traits yourself.) So how do you deal with these people? How do you retain your sanity when you come in contact with those who, in your expert opinion, are complete idiots?

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Life is all about balance and flexibility. The first step toward a more relaxed life is accepting the fact that some things can never be changed (such as the attitudes and behaviours of complete idiots).

What can be changed is your own response. Being able to take a deep breath, step back and refocus is a skill that may just need to be practiced and honed before you feel comfortable. It would be much simpler to run out of the room screaming after attempting to converse with Colleague Know-It-All or to grab a cell phone playing Justin Bieber’s latest hit at full volume and toss it out the window. Nonetheless, that type of response isn’t really considered acceptable and, ultimately, it doesn’t solve the problem. (However, if the thought of it makes you smile, that’s good – you just reduced your stress level.)

When faced with difficult, irritating and frustrating people or situations, shifting your perspective can make all the difference in the world. If you can view certain ‘others’ (and you know who they are) as ‘grace givers’ who have been put on this planet to teach you patience, compassion and even wisdom, perhaps you can make it through a difficult situation without your head exploding. You simply put a smile on your face, nod and let them get on with their rambling/ranting/obfuscating, all the while thinking of how lucky you are not to have to live with (or even be) that person.

Life really can be quite ridiculous at times, so instead of succumbing to pressure, especially when the factors are beyond your control, make a habit of adjusting your attitude. Contemplate the absurdities around you and let that loosen you up a bit. It has been said that laughter is the best medicine – so why not try a dose now and then?

And anytime you start to feel your blood pressure rising to dangerous levels, remember the wise words of Brendan Gill, who wrote for The New Yorker for more than 60 years: ‘Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious.’

Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications.  For interview requests, click here.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the authors’ alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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