While we often think it’s toughest to deal with people who are contrary and difficult, truth is the top of the heap in the tough department is those who don’t communicate at all. Even when we find colleagues to be difficult and hard to work, at least we have some sense of what we’re working with. When we don’t get a response, though, this is where time wasting and frustration is taken to new heights.
No response at all jangles our nerves and pushes our emotions and our brains into overdrive. Why didn’t they bother to respond to me? Am I not worth their time? What’s really going on? And then we do it, what all human brains do when they don’t have enough information. We fill in the blanks, and if we don’t have enough information, we just make it up. It’s not like we’re trying to conjure up some kind of fabrication, it’s simply that our brain has a need for a full picture, so we use hints, tidbits, partial information, and start to piece it together.
While dealing with noxious people can be challenging, dealing with mystery people is taxing. We end up working ten times as hard on wasteful pastimes. If we’re working in overdrive to fill in the blanks, then our emotions start spinning out of control too. And before we know it, we’re not concentrating on our work, we’re living in the land of imaginary relationships.
Often, getting responses can be out of our control, and we have to learn to manage through the mystery. But more often than we would like to think, we have the ability to manage non-responsiveness and the mystery world.
One situation is when the people who are being mysterious to us are actually available for discussion, but we don’t approach because we’re afraid, or worse, don’t really want to find out that it’s better than we’d thought. Because, let’s face it, sometimes we kind of like making demons out of other people so we don’t have to take any responsibility. But a funny thing happens when we take the first move to remove the mystery. We find out the other person is struggling too, and wants things to be better. Just finding this out takes the pressure off. We don’t have to keep making up things.
Another situation is when we really can’t get to the mystery person. Then it’s up to us to put the brakes on our own imagination and stop letting ourselves spin out of control. Challenging, but indeed possible to do. We have to pay attention to our own thoughts, and be willing to derail ourselves from wasteful, toxic imaginings.
So let’s de-mystify our lives wherever we can, first by facing up to having grown-up talks with people within our reach. And second, we can have a grown up talk with ourselves about dealing with the life we have and not worrying about things out of our control.
It’s possible, it really is. After all, who wants to waste their energy and live in mystery all the time. It’s not very fruitful or fulfilling. This is the root of choosing on purpose.