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How to Manage People and Their Quirks

by Karen Garvey on 12/04/13

I have some quirks.  For years, I’d explain them, try to change them, or apologize for them.  Then it occurred to me that my quirks are either really original, echoing my uniqueness, or they are well-earned from a bumpy ride early in life.  So I decided a long time ago to accept them.  But as unique as I am, I am the same as everyone in that we are all totally unique.  The quirks that each person has makes them memorable and outstanding.  Their preferences and aversions make them one-of-a-kind. And their idiosyncrasies make them memorable.

If we stripped all this colorfulness from people, humanity would be a dull shade of grade with each person fading into a sea of nothingness.

When you think of people’s quirks in terms of their specialness or in terms of those quirks being a badge of perseverance from troubled times, it makes it easier to embrace those differences.  This time of year is when we strive to ignite the best within to illuminate the best in others, and appreciating the little things about our friends and loved ones can help us stretch ourselves to be our greatest.

So let’s explore how we might get there.  

1.  Be kind first.

We all have a history with people.  It’s tempting to react to an incident rashly based on that history, but pause and take the time to be kind first.  It takes a mature, enlightened person to behave kindly.  This advice does not mean that one should allow others to mistreat or abuse you, but rather begin with the intention and actions of kindness in all your interactions, all the time.

2.  Address ongoing issues before they appear again.  

Yes, Aunt Rachel is always an hour late, and yes, your brother sits in front of the TV all day and doesn’t offer to help clean up, but reacting harshly now doesn’t resolve the issue.  It just adds tension.

Come up with creative or humorous solutions. Tell Aunt Rachel that the evening starts one hour earlier.  Let her know that appetizers begin at 5 pm and serve them at that time whether she’s there or not.  Ask her to bring a dessert instead of hors d'oeuvres.  Set your brother’s place-setting with dirty plates and flatware. When he addresses it, laugh and say that the clean dishes are reserved for those who help out.

3. Understand that your preferences are not necessarily the preferences of others.

Part of our uniqueness is that we like different clothing styles, music, TV shows, foods, philosophies, entertainers, etc.  In this vast world, the possible likes and dislikes are infinite.  And also remember that tastes change.  Maybe you were critical of Rap music but now you appreciate it, for example.  Accept that everyone’s preferences are unique to them.  You don’t have to understand them and you don’t have to like them, but for your peace and the peace of others, accept them.

4. Don’t criticize others.

I have yet to meet someone that really likes unsolicited criticism.  Is it really necessary to point out what you perceive is wrong with others?  Criticism is met with defensiveness.  It is our nature to preserve the “selected “ identity by which we are currently living and that identity includes all of our choices in manners, appearance, language, habits, and possessions.  An attack on one’s choices is often perceived or felt as an attack of one’s being.  It hurts.  We want to be loved and appreciated, not criticized or made to feel inferior or inadequate.

If you really feel the importance of giving unsolicited advice, there are countless ways to make suggestions that are not hurtful.  Be liberal in trying to understand their choices from their perspective to see if you can find a similarity between you and them on this matter.  Consider mentioning how such a circumstance echoed something you had experienced and how you achieved a favorable resolution.  Talking about you rather them helps them to appreciate that you are coming from a place of understanding instead of criticism.   And it allows you to be heard instead of shut down.

5.  Be light-hearted.

There’s very little that others do that are matters of life or death.  Roll with the flow and let go.  A sense of humor and a bit of wit go a long way toward managing others’ quirks.  At times, say to yourself, “I accept and love you for who you are in the moment.”  This wonderful sentence can be applied to others or to yourself for an instant mood lifter.

Please note that the above suggestions are for addressing idiosyncrasies, quirkiness, and other unique elements of peoples’ choices and behaviors, not for addressing deep unresolved or unacceptable issues.

The successful use of all or any of these techniques will bring you closer to being nonjudgmental.  The release of negativity you experience from being less judgmental brings joy and peace to you and to those around you.  We are all human. And in our human journeys, it can be natural to feel the desire to “fix” others with the goal of helping them to become happier, or to sometimes feel annoyed, impatient, or judgmental.  Reacting rashly or unkindly to these drives does not increase our happiness or awakening, however.  As you shine the light on techniques to really provide guidance to others, you are shining the light on your own increasing vibrational energy.  Enjoy the surge of love that ensues!

Shine on!



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