We may need to cope with negative people in our daily life. In his book “The Tao of Daily Life”, Derek Lin has offered us the way to handle negative people:
“Criticizing others while being unaware of their own faults is something that many people do. We can even say that it is something we all do from time to time…when people lash out at us with venomous criticism, we should not accept it passively. We should certainly protect ourselves by putting some distance between us and them if at all possible; protect ourselves in other ways if not. The crucial point is that we can do so without feeling offended or insulted because these people are simply being themselves. It is their nature to be critical and judgmental, so it would be absurd for us to take offense, It would be pointless to get angry.”
The question for you and I to ask ourselves at first is if we have recognized and accepted our negative nature. We have to keep ourselves away from being negative toward ourselves and others.
In her book, “How To Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season”, Susan Beaumont points out that:
“Unfortunately, communities of faith often behave as if past experiences are naturally repetitive. ‘Out attendance was much higher when we advertised in the yellow pages. We should advertise in the yellow pages again.’ In liminal seasons we need to learn new responses to changing conditions. Instead of repeating the past, we must iterate. Repetition is the recurrence of the same action or even in response to a stimulus. Repetition is static. If I do X, it will result in Y. Unfortunately, repetition doesn’t yield much learning…Iteration also involves doing something again and again. However, in iteration each new act is influenced by the previous experience and slightly adapted to learn something more. We focus on incorporating the learning from the experiment and integrating what is novel into what is known”.
In the past, my intention of visiting churches, attending seminars, and reading books is to see how much I can “repeat”. I also see churches trying very hard (I should say in their best) to “repeat” their work so that their “old glories” are able to be “repeated”. It often foreshadowed the decline of the churches.
After our intention of visiting, attending and reading is changed to “iteration”, we will learn and grow.
In her book “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season” Susan Beaumont points out that:
“Anxious people tend to behave badly. And when they do, a leader’s energy is often directed at coping with the dysfunctional behavior of a few, rather than focusing on the health of the whole. An effective leader resists being drawn into the dysfunctional and remains focused on health and hope”.
I used to try my best to please, comfort, and calm the few with dysfunctional behavior. I usually end up becoming very tired and losing all my energy (and even hope) to serve and lead others. I myself so often became dysfunctional when I was drawn into the dysfunctional.
Therefore, we should not give all that we have to those with dysfunctional behavior. We have to remain focused on health & hope.
In her book, “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season”, Susan Beaumont discusses the field of our attention based on Otto Scharmer’s teaching. Beaumont points out that “The field of our attention is formed by learned patterns for the past. We pay attention to the reality in front of us through habitual judgments. Scharmer uses the term ‘downloading’ to describe our habitual mode of interpreting the present reality in light of past experience. When we download, our learning is limited to reconfirming what we already know to be true…..Nothing new permeates our bubble of interpretation. We only hear what we have already determined to be true…When downloading, we are unaware of all that informs our situation. We operate with blind spots. Our blind spots are formed by the assumptions we make without realizing that we are assuming..We convince ourselves that our reflection on our experience is the same as the experience itself, that it captures the fullness of all that may have happened…”
I believe what Beaumont is discussing here is applicable to not only our individual personal life but also our group/community/church lives. As a priest/pastor, I see that this is one of the main causes to churches’ declining, dying, and closing.
In his book, “a life having and doing enough”, Wayne Muller points out and reminds us that: “There are few real, authentic emergencies that require our immediate, life-saving response. So why is this important? Because more and more people presume unlimited access to our lives, our homes, our time. Those who want something from us expect us to give it to them. They assume that if the have our possible contact information, we should respond…If our time, our privacy, our choice to create our own schedule is neither a right nor even a privilege, soon our own lives are none of our business but rather are the business of anyone who has access to us…”
Are you the one who send a message to your friends or colleagues and expect them to make response instantly? I have always people that I am not always beside my phone and I won’t able to answer the phone and check my message all the time. I do not make response immediately does not mean that you are less important. I do need a break or what I have been doing is equally important and I need to deal with it at first.