In the mundane world, we deal with difficult people almost of a daily basis. Whether they’re classmates, co-workers, bosses, neighbors, or random people – difficult people are everywhere! As Buddhist, we should know how to deal with such people and how to control ourselves. Yes, dealing with difficult people can be difficult, but just like our spiritual practice needs practice and development, so does our patience and compassion. Which just happens to be the solution to the problem!
With our patience and compassion, we can overcome and let go of people’s negativity, rudeness, and ignorance. So maybe you’re your bosses person that gets them their coffee or tea. Your boss is rude and insensitive who never says please and thank you (which by the way, is part of loving-kindness practice, to not except returns from acts of kindness!). You bring them their coffee every morning and you stand there waiting for a thank you and nothing. Not even a glance or a grunt to acknowledge that you’re even there. So you walk away and sigh.
Don’t. Instead, the next time you bring them their coffee, make that cup of coffee the best coffee you’ve ever made! Put love and effort into it, make it a coffee that you just want to savor each sip, a coffee they’ll remember! Do this for a while. Then, take some cookies or a muffin with their coffee. Something you know they like or might enjoy. Do that for a while. Every time you take them their coffee, cookies or muffin, do it with a smile and tell them to “enjoy!” A smile is the best weapon for every attitude! Eventually, your boss will notice. Not only the really good coffee and treats, but they’ll notice you too. Maybe they’ll make eye contact, nod, grunt, or eventually even say thank you!
Your patience and compassion was noticeable! Yes, it might take some time sometimes, but it never fails. Often people treat rudeness with rudeness, and that’s never the right thing to do. That will literally just make things worse. If someone is rude to you, who cares! Their attitude and ignorance doesn’t affect you whatsoever. Only YOU can affect you! You simply treat their rudeness with a smile and a ‘thank you.’ Tell them to have a great day, to enjoy their day. Kill them with kindness! Sometimes this makes them even angrier and even more rude, but once they walk away and think about it, they’ll think, “That person was really nice to me and I took out my frustrations on them. Next time I’ll be nice to them.”
Some people’s personalities are just rude and unkind, and maybe no effort of patience and compassion will affect them and they’ll just have to suffer and spend an even longer time in Samsara. But other people might just be having a bad, rough, long day, or they might be in a hurry and they’re just not in the mood to talk or pay attention to you, so they’re rude and unkind. So why would you want to make their day worse and be rude and unkind back? Instead, smile. Your smile will remind them to smile too and it’ll hace some effect on their mood and make it just a little bit better.
The Buddha once told this story: An ugly, hideous, smelly, and gross looking monster went to see an emperor at his palace. When the monster walked in, the guards saw the monster and knew he didn’t belong there, so the guards screamed at the monster, calling him names and threatening the monster. And for every rude thing the guards said, the monster grew one inch bigger, uglier, and smellier. The guards then pulled out their swords, waving and striking it towards the monster and still yelling at the monster, and with every strike and word, the monster grew one inch bigger, uglier, and smellier. The monster got so big, it took up half the size of the courtyard. Then the emperor walks in and sees the monster. The emperor opens his arms and yelled, “Welcome!” And the monster grew one inch smaller, less uglier and smellier. The emperor offered the monster water and food, and the monster grew smaller, less uglier and smellier. And with every kind word, gesture, and action, smaller, less uglier and smellier the monster got. The monster got so small, that one more kind word it would disappear, and it did.
So remember this story. No matter how ugly (verbally) or unkind someone may seem, patience and compassion will seize the day! So always practice and strengthen your patience and compassion. Remember it can help you and the other person, and then that person will remember your patience and compassion and hopefully develop those skills for themselves and practice it. Show people how to act and be. The best way to be a Buddhist is to practice compassion and have others see that in you and practice it themselves.