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advice

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PAIN

Yesterday I called my business partner (sister) because our reviews on Amazon for our Mala Jewelry Line had suddenly dropped. In the business of Amazon that basically means your product sales will drastically dip. As I began to investigate, somebody had bought different bracelets and left bad reviews on each listing saying the exact same thing “DON’T BUY- it broke”. I’m not saying that elastic bracelets are unbreakable but in order for them to break you either have to pull really hard, get it stuck somewhere or wear it long enough until it’s the normal wear and tear (she had only recently bought the bracelets) and it could have happened to one but all of them? Sorry, that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

I always like reading the profile of the person who leaves a bad review. I’m not sure why I feel the need to know the person. I like to imagine how they look and what they are into. Every single review she had written was a complaint. Most people feel the need to share a bad experience and not necessarily a good experience, that’s human nature. But I find it very interesting that in my past research people that have left extremely poor reviews on our products leave extremely bad reviews on every product they purchase. And this really got me thinking- How much pain are people in.

We go through life focusing on our individual pain probably if you are not a narcissist on the pain of people you love - 5 people maybe 10 if you are really lucky. But we don’t consider the pain of every person that walks this earth.  The First Noble Truth usually is translated "life is suffering." but we interpret this as “I am suffering” My sales just dropped because of this witch that’s all I could think about. Not for a second did I consider that witch must be going through something hard to feel the need to leave so many bad reviews.

I’m not saying that we should justify people that don’t act in the best of ways. I’m saying that when people act poorly (sometimes that people are us) they are doing it from a place of pain and if we forget we end up just blaming others and taking on way more than we need. 

When I was 12 I had a “friend” that seemed to be out to get me. Spice Girls was always playing in the background music and the highlight of my life was walking the mall with my friends wearing cheap jewelry and colored sunglasses (we looked as ridiculous as it sounds) My "friend" would invite everybody to her house except me, her parents would host trips and I was the only friend that didn’t get invited (I considered maybe it was my smell or that my parents didn’t have as much money) I cried myself to sleep many nights feeling like an outsider and thinking something was wrong with me. Eventually, I changed schools and found other “friends” who funny enough ended up doing similar things.

But it wasn’t until much later in life when I reconnected with this girl. That I could see how much pain she was in. Her life seemed so perfect on the outside but she was having anxiety attacks, had never been in a relationship, barely had any friends, her mother had the ability to make her feel like she was less ALL the time. I’m sure that was only the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t feel better that she was (and still is) suffering but it does allow me to understand that her suffering has nothing to do with me and that the pain she inflicted was only coming from her pain and this is true for every human being. We are not compelled to hurt others when we feel connected and loved. We do this out of an empty space inside of us.

Some people are better at pretending that their space is not empty and that there is no pain in their hearts but I don’t think anybody can consciously hurt others if they are truly whole and happy.

So my advice- let’s recognize the suffering of others as we recognize our own. Let’s not take on more pain than need it by adding the drama and victimhood of our minds.

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How to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument

Every time I visit my mom in Mexico City she insists that I clean out my bedroom to which I respond “Let's throw everything out! If I didn’t need it for the last 10 years I’m sure I won’t need it now” but something stops her.

My mom and I are very different when it comes to owning things. She has trouble getting rid of a sweater she wore in 1990, while I can basically throw half my closet without blinking.

While going through my books I came across “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. This book was part of a sales workshop I attended during my time working for American Express Publishing. I never read the book because the title sounded to me like “How to be a Fake and get people to do what you want” but on this occasion, I opened it and to my surprise couldn’t stop reading. This book is a gem. One of my favorite reads is when he lists how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument [pgs. 148-150] He writes this from a business context but imagine if we could use this as a tool with our partners, family or friends. Thanksgiving Dinners would change forever.

 

  • Welcome the disagreement – Remember the slogan, “When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.” If there is some point you haven’t thought about, be thankful if it is brought to your attention. Perhaps this disagreement is your opportunity to be corrected before you make a serious mistake.
  • Distrust your first instinctive impression – Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.
  • Control your temper – Remember, you can measure the size of a person by what makes him or her angry.
  • Listen first – Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding. Don’t build higher barriers of misunderstanding.
  • Look for areas of agreement – When you have heard your opponents out, dwell first on the points and areas on which you agree.
  • Be honest – Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologize for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponents and reduce defensiveness.
  • Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully – And mean it. Your opponents may be right. It is a lot easier at this stage to agree to think about their points than to move rapidly ahead and find yourself in a position where your opponents can say: “We tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.”
  • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest – Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you, and you may turn your opponents into friends.
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem – Suggest that a new meeting be held later that day or the next day, when all the facts may be brought to bear. In preparation for this meeting, ask yourself some hard questions: Could my opponents be right? Partly right? Is there truth or merit in their position or argument? Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve any frustration? Will my reaction drive my opponents further away or draw them closer to me? Will my reaction elevate the estimation good people have of me? Will I win or lose? What price will I have to pay if I win? If I am quiet about it, will the disagreement blow over? Is this difficult situation an opportunity for me?

 

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