The Problem with “Putting Up” with Annoying Behavior – and How You Can Change It (#220)

The Problem with "Putting Up" with Annoying Behavior – and How You Can Change It (#220)

Have you ever been annoyed with something or someone, but you decide to “just put up with it?” There’s a better way to address it besides tolerating it.

Have you ever been annoyed with something or someone, but you decide to “just put up with it?” We probably all have. Why it matters:  There’s a better way to address it that leads us to better relationships and inner peace. What you’ll learn from this 10-minute episode:
  • 2 proven and powerful options to handle these situations
  • 3 tips for having a difficult conversation
Resources:  Link to episode 68 with Josh Freedman, leading expert in Emotional Intelligence:

Bobbi: Welcome to UnYielded: Thriving No Matter What where we talk about how to make your next chapter in life your best chapter. I’m your host, Bobbi Kahler, and I believe that the best is yet to come.


Recently, something happened that made me think about something I learned when I took horseback riding lessons as a kid. And to give proper context, these were not fancy horseback riding lessons. They were informal. They were just lessons from one of our neighbors. Her name was Wanda, and she just knew and understood horses. And it came about because I was afraid of horses. I’d been kicked in the rib by one. And let me tell you, that hurts. And I think that is a very good reason to be afraid of a horse.


Now, looking back at this, though, through my adult eyes, my mom sold me on taking these horseback riding lessons in an incredibly masterful way. And the one that she probably knew was going to work with me. And here’s how she did it. She told me that I would be too afraid to ride a horse, and that’s all it took. And that’s how I ended up taking lessons from Wanda.


Before we even got to get up on the horse. There were all sorts of things that we had to learn, which at the time I was impatient about, because having decided to prove that I wasn’t afraid, I wanted to get up on the horse. But apparently that’s not how these things worked. So I tried to be a good student.


And the thing that I recently remembered is that Wanda took out the saddle blanket for the horse I’d be riding, whose name was Dollar, and she put it across a couple of sawhorses and she taught me how to inspect it for burrs or for anything else that might be clinging to it.


And some of this stuff was obvious, and some of it was like it was so tiny that I couldn’t even imagine why we were worrying about it. I mean, Dollar was a good-sized quarter horse and he weighed in around 1100 pounds. And I just didn’t understand why something that was smaller than the size of my pinky nail could possibly be a problem.


So I asked Wanda about this and she said, Dollar is a gentle horse and more tolerant than most, but any horse will buck and possibly throw the rider if there is a burr in the horse blanket and that gets pressed up against him in just the wrong way.


Now, I understood that if it was a large burr, I understood how that could happen. But I still didn’t get this minuscule stuff that I was picking off the blanket. So I asked her about that and Wanda replied, the problem with the small stuff is that it won’t bother the horse the first time or even the second time, or maybe not even the third time, but at some point it will feel it rubbing up against them. And when that same irritation is there, it will finally annoy the horse, and then it will buck.


And that is the lesson that I recently remembered. Not because I’m taking up horseback riding lessons, although who knows, I might want to give that a try, but because I thought about how it applies to people and relationships.


How many times have you been in a situation where someone has done something to you and you’ve pushed aside and you pushed your irritation aside and you thought, you know what, it’s not that bad. I’ll just put up with it. I mean, I know I have, and I’ve heard from others that they have. Here’s the potential problem with that. If that irritation continues to happen, then over time, it’s finally going to rub us the wrong way at just the wrong time, and we probably won’t handle it as well as we could have, had we just addressed it earlier.


And that’s the problem with tolerations. You simply cannot ignore them forever. And here’s the thing. It’s one thing if you’re like. I don’t know. Let’s say you’re at the grocery store and someone is standing dead center in the aisle, talking on their phone and their card is blocking you from getting to where you need to go. That’s probably a really good time to exercise some patience and tolerance and just navigate around it. You probably don’t need to have a conversation with that person about the grocery you know, about, I don’t know, grocery store etiquette or your version of grocery store etiquette.


What I’m talking about is when you’re in a relationship with someone, a friend, a family member, loved one, whatever, and the same irritation continues to occur, those are the ones that we probably need to address. And here’s the important thing.


We can address them either with the other person or we can address them with ourselves. What do I mean by that? Shirzad Chamine, the author of Positive Intelligence and a lecturer at Stanford, talks about this as you have two choices. You can accept or you can convert.


Accept does not mean that you tolerate it, that you put up with it, that you ignore it, or that you pretend it doesn’t exist. Accepting it means that we are truly, truly at peace with it. There are many ways to get there, but that’s the critical part of it. We are at peace with it. We have decided to be at peace with it, and it no longer bothers us, and ultimately, we don’t even notice it.


Convert means that we do something about it to alleviate it, remedy it or remove it. And that could be that we talk to the other person and we resolve it. I’ve had that happen many times. The vast majority of people, if you gracefully bring it up and they genuinely care about you, they will be grateful that you cared enough about them. And their relationship to talk about it. Now I have had it happen. That where the other person doesn’t care if it’s hurting you and that’s when you and only you can decide what’s best for you. Maybe you accept or maybe you decide it’s time to limit interactions with that person. And there’s no one formula for how to decide that. You know what’s funny though? Even as I say those words, what came to mind for me is that there are two important criteria that I use. Number 1, Am I being fully authentic and true to myself. If by tolerating the behavior I’m not being fully authentic, then something has to change. And the second thing that came into mind is that is the toleration. Is it eating away at my self respect, my self love, or the way that I feel about myself? If it is, then something has to change. Those to me, are deal breakers and you might have your own. Just make sure you know what what they are.


So if you decide to have a conversation with someone, here are a couple things that might help. First of all, address it early before it becomes a crisis. When Josh Friedman, who is a leading expert on emotional intelligence was on the podcast, he talked about it as stopping the train before it leaves the station and picks up a ton of speed. And I’ll put that link in the show notes if you want to listen because it was full of great strategies and gyms, but I thought that was a great metaphor. If you visualize a train as it’s leaving the station, it’s not going very fast. It’s easy to stop. Once it’s flying down the tracks, it’s way harder to stop that train. So we want to deal with it before it leaves the station. Second thing, go into the conversation assuming positive intent on the part of the other person. Not only is this just a good practice, but number one, it keeps you open.


Number two, it helps to keep it a conversation and not a confrontation.


And number three, the other person will feel it if you go in judging them, they’ll feel it, I promise you, and they will be defensive. It’s human nature.

And finally, number three, do not issue ultimatums. Even if something is really, really bothering you, don’t use an ultimatum. Most people will feel manipulated if you try to use an ultimatum. And even if they comply, it will leave a very sour taste with them.


Now, here’s what a lot of people have asked me over the years. What if I have the conversation and they still don’t change? That’s when you may decide that you need to walk away. And that’s okay too. I had a coach tell me years ago that if you have an honest, heartfelt conversation with someone about something like this, something that is hurting you and they don’t care or they won’t change, then that is a data point for you. You may not like that data point, but it may be time to face what it is instead of what you wish it were. When I say walk away, that doesn’t mean you have to necessarily end the relationship. Although sometimes that is warranted. Sometimes, though, it’s simply saying how do I want this person to be in my life?


So to recap when faced with something that is continuing to bother us, instead of trying to ignore it, which doesn’t work. We have two powerful choices either accept it, which means finding a way to truly be at peace with it, or we convert it.


I remind myself of these two choices frequently, and I find that they are really empowering. It reminds me that I am not a victim of other people’s behavior. I have choices. I hope that this was helpful. I get a lot of questions about these types of conversations, so I wanted to share some on it.


As always, I want to thank you for tuning in and for listening. For those of you have subscribed, I’m so appreciative. I love you all. And if you haven’t hit that subscribe button yet, now is probably a good time to do it so that you never miss another episode. I hope you all have a terrific week and that you continue to rise and thrive.

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