It’s your choice: Make it a positive one

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Christine Pierce
  • 22nd Medical Operations Squadron commander
You make many choices every day, choices that range from what to wear to buying a home or where to retire. We all know that there are consequences for our choices - some big, some not so big.

In general, we only give careful consideration to choices that have the potential for serious consequences. For example, when buying a house you would probably consider your budget. Buying a house that doesn't fit your budget carries the potential consequence of foreclosure and possibly bankruptcy, definitely things to consider. But, what about the smaller choices you make every day?

How often do you think about the effect of your smaller, everyday choices, actions or reactions? Have you ever felt mistreated in a store's checkout line and wondered what happened to customer service? Have you ever thought your spouse, friend, neighbor or co-worker was avoiding you, gave a grumpy reply when you spoke to them or was angry with you as a result of their less than enthusiastic response to your greeting? As a consequence, have any of these situations left you feeling disgruntled and wondering what you had done that caused that person to treat you so shabbily? And, have you ever reacted negatively, giving an angry look or turning a cold shoulder?

Such incidents are often and unnecessarily the beginning of a dysfunctional communication cycle. For example, you see your neighbor over the fence and say "good morning". He doesn't answer but walks back into the house never turning your direction. You feel slighted and try to figure out why he's mad at you. You wonder what you have done to deserve such treatment. You search your memory and just can't think of any reason for this behavior. Before you know it, you're angry with your neighbor. How dare he ignore you like that? You've done nothing to deserve such awful treatment. The next time you encounter this neighbor you decide to ignore him, and not to respond to his greeting if one is offered. Instead, you just turn and march back into the house to prove a point; after all, he started it. Now it's the neighbor's turn to wonder what happened and as the cycle goes on everyone loses. Both parties are left with unpleasant feelings and the loss of quality time visiting with a neighbor.

Let's rewind and try a different response. You see your neighbor and say "good morning" and when he doesn't respond you choose your thoughts! This time you choose to be concerned and wonder if he's ill or if something is weighing heavily on his mind to the point that he didn't hear you. This time you choose to speak up, call his name and walk toward him and ask how he's doing. At this point your neighbor responds with an apology - "I'm sorry, my mind was elsewhere. I didn't hear you." The two of you have a nice chat and the end result is totally different than the first scenario.

The point to all of this is simple. You have the choice. When a cashier appears to treat you with disrespect choose to wonder how many rude customers they've dealt with during the day. When a spouse, friend or co-worker seems to be avoiding you or greets you with less enthusiasm that expected, choose to assume that something has them distracted or they are just not feeling up to par. You never know what's going on in another person's life. Don't be so quick to jump to a negative's your choice...make it a positive one. You will find life much more pleasant and so will those who benefit from your choice.