Do you have a difficult person in your life? Maybe a client who makes your soul groan? They walk through the door, and you have to force your cheek muscles to smile. Or, perhaps you have a family member who drives you nuts. Someone that you dread to see, but you have to encounter on a regular basis.
Try this: Find one small thing to love about them. Just one thing.
Make it your job — your mission — to find it.
Once, I had a member who was tough to take. Let’s call him “Barney.” He’d walk though the door and my heart would plunge. I knew what the next hour would be like. Barney wasn’t a bad fellow, but a bit of an oaf and he unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) annoyed people. I struggled to find one thing to love about Barney. No matter how hard I tried, he frustrated me and the other coaches. I wanted to punch Barney.
And then, one day, I met Barney’s wife. She was fabulous. (Let’s call her “Betty.”) A lovely, warm, fantastic human being. And Betty loved Barney so much. After that, whenever Barney would walk through the door, I would think, “Betty loves him. She’s a wonderful person. Find what Betty sees.”
Little by little, I found something. It wasn’t always the same thing, and some days it was small, but every day there was something. This one pursuit changed every interaction I had with Barney. Instead of focusing only on his frustrating behavior, I began to see when Barney was funny or sweet or just a confused little boy in a man’s body. I began to see why Betty loved Barney.
I shared my viewpoint with my coaches. Using this tool, they began to see Barney in a different way too. It changed every interaction they had with him, and changed interactions they had with other difficult members. Everybody won.
So, when faced with a difficult person, I urge you to find one thing to love. Just one. It’s probably there, even if you don’t see it at first. Keep working. Keep digging. Because once you start looking for the good in people, you give them the chance to show you even more of it. It may or may not change them, but it will change you — and that’s really all you can hope for, isn’t it?