One of the biggest challenges we face in life is interacting with other people. Sometimes our simplest words or gestures are interpreted in a whole different way than we intended.
I had an experience last week that reminded me all over again of how differently people are wired and that there are always two sides to every story.
I was having lunch with a friend who told me about a co-worker that had come back from running errands, all in a huff. The co-worker went on and on throughout the afternoon grousing about how a woman had been in line behind her at the eyeglass store and while she was having her glasses lightened, she turned to apologize to the woman who just gave her a smirky dirty look – how rude!
My friend said:
“It just amazes me how some people let one jerk ruin their whole day.”
Now, here is where the story gets REALLY interesting.
I am the jerk.
Yep – me.
And, I had not given the incident a second thought.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but basically I was in line behind her for a LONG time and when the store owner asked her to try her glasses outside so he could see how he could help me, she declined and brought up a second issue with another pair of glasses. As he continued to help her, she turned toward me, shrugged and said “sorry.”
I did not acknowledge her apology with any words. Just a half-smile.
Based on the three-second interaction, she decided I was rude.
I WAS irritated that rather than letting him help me, she decided to bring up another issue.
I was also wearing sunglasses so all she could see were big black glasses and a lopsided smile/smirk.
When I heard about her reaction to our interaction, I didn’t know whether to be irritated she thought I was rude, or proud that my “smirk” was that snarky.
My friend and I then had a GREAT discussion about how our actions, or non-actions can often be misinterpreted. My reality of that encounter was totally different from her co-workers, even though it involved the same 15 minutes of time, in the same place.
Two sides – same coin.
Just a good reminder that interacting with people is not always as simple as it seems.