Anybody remember bumper cars? They remind me of us, a bunch of egos colliding all over the place, sometimes just for the fun of it, sometimes not. What is that? From Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman:

“We all care intensely for the narrative of our own life and very much want it to be a good story, with a decent hero.”

Bumper Cars

That’s all it is really, everyone trying to be the hero of their own story. Each of us, just a tiny speck in the universe, trying to deal with our massive vulnerability, trying to matter more than we do — by producing and directing the story of our own lives, in which we are the star.

Trouble is…without realizing it, other people have a part for you in their movie, and you have a part for them in yours. But people don’t necessarily want the parts assigned to them in other people’s stories because they are busy starring in their own.

So, whether at work or home or wherever we may roam, we are like bumper cars, everyone bumping into the wishes, needs, and aspirations of everyone else. And although collaboration is our birthright too, it often gets crushed under the weight of the crashing bumper cars.

3 Steps to Interpersonal Sanity

So here are 3 simple but powerful tips to ease the tension and foster the collaboration we need now more than ever in these challenging times.

1. Pause your movie and greet each person as if you are meeting them for the very first time. Every day is a new day. Set yourself and your baggage aside long enough to let the other person in as they conceive of themselves separate from who or how you think they should be.

2. Focus your speaking and your listening on the subject at hand. Each time the mind wanders to what you think about the other person, or what the other person thinks of you, bring the mind back to the topic on the table. 

3. Express your “what I find” to the others once, maybe twice, just to be sure you have been heard. No response? Not the desired response? Move on, enjoy your day, and remember that we are all just peas in a pod trying to get through the day—and our lives—in the best way we know how.

Stay tuned for Getting to G.R.E.A.T: 5-Step Strategy for Work and Life…Based on Science and True Stories, coming soon with relevant chapters on “Other People” and “Mastering Your Mouth.”

Warm wishes for the holiday,