This is a tough one, because it doesn’t mean you should be a doormat or take crap from people, but I have learned in the last couple of years that, in many cases, people you see on a daily basis are dealing with tough life situations.
I am going through a divorce. Generally speaking, it is a very amicable situation, but it is still really hard, and there are still days that I have trouble dealing with life in general. There are days when I wish I could wear a sign that says “PLEASE JUST GIVE ME A BREAK TODAY!” As I have been dealing with my own situation, it has opened my eyes a bit. I can remember a day when I was struggling to keep myself together, and I ran into a friend while dropping off my daughter at preschool. She didn’t know of my issues, and when I asked how she was she mentioned that her family was going through a rough time because her mother-in-law was in the hospital with cancer and they didn’t know if she would pull through. Suddenly I was pulled out of my own world of hurt and into another’s. I realized that we all have things on our mind – family issues, personal struggles, whatever – and it has an effect on how we carry ourselves and how we live our lives.
The next time someone you work with is short with you, or the barista at the coffee shop isn’t as friendly as you think he should be, cut him some slack. Maybe he has something heavy weighing on his mind.