Ron Goch
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Responding Positively to Negative Situations

April 26th 2006

I was with an associate this week in Los Angeles and he was searching for an open parking space when we spotted one after several minutes.
 

As the vehicle in front of us passed the spot, and we were just about to pull into the open parking space, the vehicle ahead of us stopped and started to back into the spot.  My friend immediately applied his brakes so the woman in the SUV could back into the spot.
 

My friend expressed his surprise she decided to back into the spot, knowing there weren’t too many open spots and the fact we were following fairly closely behind her, and she likely had an idea we too were in search of a parking spot.  He actually had the pace – and time – to pull into the open space, but chose to be courteous and allow the SUV to have the spot.
 

As the woman maneuvered her SUV into the spot, she looked at us and mouthed a word I won’t repeat, but let’s just say it had to do with a person’s backside and a hole, and her enunciation was impeccable as she slowly and emphatically mouthed the word.
 

At first, I was stunned, but I then smiled and laughed. I couldn’t help but laugh.  I guess I was expecting her to smile and mouth “Thank You” and instead, we received a sour look and anything but thank you.
 

It’s kind of like when I thought I picked up my cold glass of skim milk, and instead, I picked up my glass of orange juice and took a sip; except in this situation, it was the woman who had the sour look.
 

To me, it seemed a bit “crazy” this person was upset and felt the need to express her anger by mouthing her frustration in our direction. I don’t know what motivated her to be so upset and to mouth what she did, but it often happens when people are driving, and usually when that person is just a little too close to your back bumper.
 

In these situations, how do you respond?
 

I can tell you that as I grew up, I recall the common response from most people – at school, at the grocery store, or just walking down the street – was to have an even stronger negative reaction to the person; to essentially “top” whatever behavior was directed towards them.
 

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned over the years these situations don’t have to be negative on both sides, that we have choices in how we respond to similar situations, and we can actually respond in a positive way or respond by showing no response.
 

In the case of this person who mouthed what she did to us, I chose to smile, laugh and let it go as someone likely not having a very good day or that she may have viewed the situation differently than how we viewed it.
 

I didn’t always handle situations that way, and there certainly are occasions when I could handle situations much better than I do, but I have found it much more fun to respond in a positive way or to respond by showing no response, than it is to respond negatively.
 

I encourage you to look for a similar opportunity today and see what you can do to defuse the situation by not showing a negative response, or surprise the other person by showing a positive response and see how you feel.  You may even smile and laugh as I did, which feels a whole lot better than getting upset.
 

In fact, I’m smiling and laughing right now as I think back to that LA parking lot!  Have fun, smile and laugh today…no matter what situation is presented to you.
 

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Ron Goch, The Telios Group
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