Being a peaceful person

This week, my e-mails have been like no other week.  I try to follow my own rule and avoid sending out content in an e-mail that will trigger an emotional response.  I make a phone call instead or ask to schedule a meeting to talk in person if I need to cover multiple issues.  When I get an emotionally-charged e-mail, my rule is the same.  Call them to answer their questions or ask to schedule a meeting to review their questions or concerns.

I still catch myself wanting (sometimes desperately) to respond to the emotional e-mail because I can respond to the problem quicker, on my own time, have time to craft the "perfect" response and avoid an uncomfortable conversation.  Even so, sometimes I am wrong on what is and what is not an emotional-trigger e-mail; something that, to me, seemed like a status update or a discussion of procedure.  Twice this week, I was wrong.  Or at least twice this week I got an e-mail sent to me that showed great frustration.

The hardest thing to do, initially, is not to take it personally.  The anger that is being portrayed through the words on the page are not because of me.  The individual is going through the most difficult stage of their life and it indirectly involves their child.  After I take it personally (gut reaction/human nature), the next thing I want to do is defend myself and my work.  Time spent doing that is fruitless.  It isn't about me. Dealing with difficult situations is part of my job. The person that will pat me on the back for my efforts is me; I can't expect it from someone else.

Without fail, anger projected to me is in response to the stage of litigation we are in.  Springtime is also when people's personal lives are more demanding of them.  At least that is my experience.  Couple this with the cost of litigation and the uprooting it does to a person's life and it is an equation for bad ill towards others.

This morning I was reading a story on a blog and it quoted James 1:19 "be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry".  This is a powerful formula to handle a difficult situation.  Listening will help me learn if there is a deeper issue at hand.  

Listening without limitations (i.e. slow to speak) and waiting during their pauses, lets them know they are in a safe place and can keep talking.  Listening is a skill to be learned and practiced repeatedly.  It is a powerful tool for you and a generous gift you can give to another.

Be slow to become angry reminds me of my son's school.  There, they focus on peace everyday.  I could learn a lot from doing the same.  At school, after the students say the pledge of allegiance, they say a peace pledge.  "The peace above you and below you, the peace before you and behind you.  Peace from your lips.  Peace from your heart."

My life is fraught with controversy even when I don't consider my work.  I don't know anyone whose circumstances are different.  Like everything, being a peaceful person takes practice.  It is easier to be angry. 

As is quoted in my son's classroom - "Peace begins with me".