You dread it.
It suddenly becomes apparent that your job will, once again, require you to interact with a jerk.
That one customer that simply never shuts up about how great they are. That one colleague who takes credit for every idea you share. That one executive who always “shoots” the messenger.
You Will Deal With Jerks
Many years ago, I attended a presentation featuring a panel of executive coaches who worked with some of the top leaders in business.
During the panel, someone pointed out that with the nature of their clientele, many of these coaches had probably worked with people they didn’t much like themselves – or even who were real jerks. The question was posed:
How can you actually care about someone who is a complete jerk?
After the laughter quieted down, one of the panelists gave a response I’ll never forget:
I do everything possible to find one thing about the person I can love.
He explained that he had worked with many people in his career who could easily be put into the “jerk” category, so he found this a continual challenge. He had figured out that if he could find something about another party he could love, it was easier to care.
Find Something To Love
The things he’d find to love about people were often simple.
He’d notice a picture of a child on an office desk. Despite the person’s poor behavior with everyone else, he considered how much that person must love that child to have their photo in front of them all day.
He could love that.
Or sometimes it might be a casual mention about a meeting that couldn’t happen because the client had to visit an elderly parent. He’d think about the kind of integrity displayed to dedicate time to care for a parent, in the midst of a demanding, executive career.
He could love that.
Over time, he found it easier to care when he had already identified something he could love about the other party. He learned that if he was intentional about it, he could find something to love about almost anybody.
Forget About Liking
The panelist readily admitted that finding something he loved did not make the job easy. Sometimes, he’d still walk away with disgust and failure.
But it often took enough edge off the next interaction to help him engage again. Even though he couldn’t like everybody, he could find something to love.
You can dislike someone, and still love something about them. That’s because “like” is a feeling. “Love” is a commitment.
Even in the best of marriages, spouses don’t like each other all the time. Smart couples don’t focus on staying in like – they focus on staying in love.
Make This Your Practice, Too
How can you make this a regular commitment when dealing with jerks? I welcome your response in the comments section below.