Thursday, August 7, 2008

Your Boss Cannot Frustrate You

A tale is told about the Buddha, Gautama (563-483BC), the Indian prince and spiritual leader whose teachings founded Buddhism. This short story illustrates that every one of us has the choice whether or not to take personal offence from another person's behavior.

It is said that on an occasion when the Buddha was teaching a group of people, he found himself on the receiving end of a fierce outburst of abuse from a bystander, who was for some reason very angry.

The Buddha listened patiently while the stranger vented his rage, and then the Buddha said to the group and to the stranger, "If someone gives a gift to another person, who then chooses to decline it, tell me, who would then own the gift? The giver or the person who refuses to accept the gift?"

"The giver," said the group after a little thought. "Any fool can see that," added the angry stranger.

"Then it follows, does it not," said the Buddha, "Whenever a person tries to abuse us, or to unload their anger on us, we can each choose to decline or to accept the abuse; whether to make it ours or not. By our personal response to the abuse from another, we can choose who owns and keeps the bad feelings."

Once a gentleman came to me and shared a major challenge he is facing in his life. He was going through an absolute turmoil in life, because of his boss. He said that his boss used to belittle him and insult him in front of others. His boss used to make him feel inferior by making statements like “you are an absolute waste, you have no idea about the job, there is no point in having an MBA,” so on and so forth. “Every day was horrible. Every morning, especially Monday mornings, I woke up to the worst day. It looked as if every thing in this world is working against me,” he said. All the frustrations at the work place were profusely getting transferred to his subordinates and to his family.

After listening to him, I asked, “is your boss making you frustrated or are you getting frustrated?” He was a bit confused. He asked “what is the difference; which ever way I am getting frustrated.” So now the issue is no more his boss or boss’s behavior; but the issue is our friend is getting frustrated. In short it is not his boss’s bad behavior; but it is his response to the bad attitude shown by his boss. It is always easier to make changes within you rather than making changes in others. Hence I asked him to stay cool and take charge of his responses. “Next time when your boss is trying to frustrate to you, you tell yourself that, I am not going to get frustrated.”

I suggested some practical steps for that, which I will discuss next week. However, after that day, his boss could never make him frustrated.

This week, practice to have control on your responses. Have a wonderful week ahead