What if you could make your life a little bit easier by being able to handle difficult people? This five-minute read might help you right then when you are annoyed by people. Sometimes it only takes a small shift of your perspective.
The Onion–Story. Emotional Intelligence Training while making dinner.
Once upon a time on a Friday night, I had friends over and I was cooking ratatouille. Out of all veggies, personally, I dislike to peel, to cut and to slice onion the most. As a teenager, I worked in a restaurant and they always made me chop onions. I never liked it and until today it’s a challenge to come up with something positive about processing an onion. Onions burn and water my eyes, my hands stink afterwards and there is a high chance of nicking myself in the finger (it happened many times). While I was cutting the onions – one of my friends asked me about the situation with Nancy (a woman in management who I was in an interpersonal conflict with).
„Yeah Nancy!“ I said ironically and rolled my eyes.
And then I started ranting :
- She is so mean.
- She made my cry the other day.
- She hurts my feelings.
- She simply stinks.
Suddenly I realized I compared her with the onion I was just cutting. I thought about it for a second and then it clicked.
I have the same negative emotions for Nancy as I have for that onion I was just slicing.
I looked down at the perfectly cut pieces of onion slices and noticed: When I concentrate on something else and not on the onion, it becomes less terrible. Literally, the onion cut itself into small dices. That was interesting!
Positivity means concentrating on the bright sight
Out of all the veggies I need for my ratatouilles – onions generate a negative emotion inside me. It’s the same with Nancy. We were five people I was working with and I liked the company, I liked the project, I liked the team – I just didn’t like Nancy. Nancy was my onion!
Remembering the happy feeling of putting the sliced onion dices to the rest of the veggies getting ready to finish up my meal made me aware that I actually can control my own emotions and thoughts.
What if I stop hating Nancy and see the bigger picture? Just like the positive impact my detested onion has on my meal, I could focus on the positive impact Nancy has for the project.
Suddenly my mood changed. And I said to my friends: „But you know what, actually, there are a couple of good things about her.“
And then I pointed them out:
- She is very popular, she has been in the company way longer than I have and she always introduces a go-to person to me.
- She always has the best intentions for the whole team – if I like it personally or not.
- She is pretty funny. Her sense of humor is quite hilarious.
Automatically, I felt better. I felt relieved and I had found a way for me to be able to stand her company. I decided to follow up on focusing on her strengths and what I like about her rather than what I dislike. And it is only in my responsibility to concentrate on the positive.
Interpersonal conflicts in business. Don’t we all have an onion in our life?
But isn’t it normal to hate someone? Isn’t there always at least one person that makes our life just a little bit more complicated? I am talking about our personal onion – this kind of person, that causes a stink, that cuts us where it hurts, that makes us cry, and is simply interrupting our perfect life?
The answer is YES. We will always be around people that challenge us.
We might not be able to change other people, but we can change our attitude towards others. The black sheep in our family, the rude customer, or the difficult co-worker, who is not easy to get along with. People are like onions, right? There are many layers to peel before you reach the core! Here is my advice:
Don’t get scared away if you don’t like someone for the first time! – you could miss out on a great friendship.
Don’t get scared off if you don’t like someone even after the second time – you might have only discovered this person during the wrong circumstances.
Don’t be disappointed in people even if you don’t like someone after you spend more time with someone, eventually liked them first and then discovered something you disliked – Nobody is perfect!
You have the choice and it is up to you to search for someone’s strength rather than focusing on the flaws.
The change is obliged to us by changing our own perspective, our own pattern when we recognize a problem with people. The ability to see the positive in someone else is a learning process, that comes with the willingness to create peace and harmony. It all starts with awareness, takes patience and brings personal strength.
Never forget: The onion will always be the onion. The challenge is to accept the smell, the burn, the disgust and be excited about the sweet taste of the fried onion in your ratatouille or on your burger.