Let’s Cut Each Other A Break

by  Mary C. Schaefer  |  Self Leadership
Let’s Cut Each Other a Break

Have you ever had someone accuse you of an offense that you were totally unaware of? Maybe you unknowingly got ahead of them in line at the coffee shop.

Or you inched out of a lane in a parking lot so you could see, and someone approaching too fast had to swerve around you, cursing you all the way.

I feel icky with this happens. I want to explain it wasn’t intentional. But the damage is already done. Many times, the offended doesn’t want to hear it.

Of Course It Can Go Both Ways

Recently I met with an acquaintance at local cafe. During our discussion she kept looking around. She didn’t maintain eye contact. Was I boring her? Why did she even want to meet with me if she wasn’t going to give me her attention?

At one point I did ask her if she was looking for something. She said no and came back to me, for a moment. Our relationship was not such that I would say more to her about it.

During our coffee she mentioned she and her boyfriend had broken up. I didn’t connect this to the behavior I saw.

I came away from the meeting wondering just what was going on. She’s not a rude person. Later she contacted me, apologizing. She said she saw a few people at the café who were common friends of her and her ex.

It hit her harder than she expected. She wasn’t ready to speak with them. She felt like she had to keep looking over her shoulder or watch for who was listening.

Sometimes We Need To Practice The Same Lesson Over & Over

This is not the first time you’ve heard a story like this. It won’t be the last. I needed yet another lesson on expecting the best of people.

My fellow instigator, Jane Perdue, has written a magnificent piece on unconditional positive regard. Message received, Universe.

I was complaining to a fellow blogger the other day about a really nasty comment someone made on one of my posts. “How do you handle this, Andrew?”

He said that he started by imagining they were just having a bad day. That’s a level of maturity and compassion I aspire to. How about you?

How do you remind yourself to look for the best in people?
Photo Credit: Pixabay

About The Author

Articles By mary-schaefer
Speaker, coach and trainer Mary Schaefer’s expertise is in creating work cultures where organizations and human beings can both thrive. She is a former HR manager. Find out more about how Mary helps managers empower themselves to make the most of their human resources with this special collection of articles selected for LCG readers:  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Paula Kiger (Admin)  |  08 Dec 2014  |  Reply

Mary, I mentioned to you when I saw the preview of this post that I had a story. Many years ago, my daughter (who is now 18) and I were driving around. I think she was 13 or 14 months old. I was trying to fit in a grocery errand before her naptime, meaning I needed the entire process to go with precision accuracy so she wouldn’t fall asleep in the car and mess up her naptime! It was the holidays, and the parking lot was horrible (of course). I was angling for a spot when another driver took it. Once I got parked, I confronted the poor lady! In retrospect I don’t think she had seen me, and all I had seen was my exhaustion and my need to get my kid to a nap. I was never able to find her to apologize but hope karma treats her kindly; I definitely needed to cut her a break! :-)

Mary C. Schaefer  |  08 Dec 2014  |  Reply

Thanks for sharing that perfect example, Paula. I can see myself on either end of that exchange. No worries. Your self-reflection soothed that woman even if you didn’t get to apologize. Who knows. She may be reading this! :)

John Smith  |  26 Dec 2014  |  Reply

Hi, Mary

Apologies for the late comment … blame Santa Claus:)

I was struck by the simple, but essential message that underlies this engaging post. Maybe this just applies to me, but I take on the burden of the world in my interactions with others.

Much of the time, when certain behaviors occur or words are spoken in a particular way, I assume that those actions and words are directed at me, because of me. I tend to always start from the position that I have offended, irritated, or confused the other.

Your simple reflection reminds me of something we can all remember when dealing with others: It’s not always about me:)

Once we get past thinking we are the center and cause of all things, we are freed to look at people and events differently … and in my experience, this usually results in ascribing more kindly and gently.


Mary C. Schaefer  |  27 Dec 2014  |  Reply

John, thank you so much for following up and commenting. A comment like yours reminds me that speaking from our hearts about these everyday occurrences is important, and there is nothing too small to take for granted. It IS important to reflect on these things. I’m so glad you got something out of it, and can cut yourself a break a little bit :)

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