In the face of this apparent rejection of our efforts to achieve dialogue, it is tempting to form an image of the other people as enemies—be they other owners, board members, or management personnel.
How can people treat us this way? Well “they’re just not nice people”.
This is the theory that there are two kinds of people in the world: nice people and mean people. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says this notion comes from “ego”: the false, socially-constructed self that in a way needs to have bad people so it can contrast them with its own “good” identity.
Faced with behaviors that are defensive, bureacratic, or violent, we make things even worse by identifying people with their hurtful “unconscious” actions or words, Tolle warns.
This is the opposite of separating the sin from the sinner. Remember people like Gandhi or King whose nonviolent action condemns only the sin.
Labeling a board member or a property manager or a neighbor “mean”, “unreasonable”, or “evil” makes it harder for you to envision how you would like to see things in work in your association—or in your family, your work place, your church.
What’s more, it makes getting rid of people we don’t like, or shutting them down, an attractive option.
Let’s heed Tolle’s advice: no blaming, attacking, defending or justifying ourselves. If we need to take action to protect ourselves, say by hiring an attorney, fine. No need to turn the other person into an enemy.
“Non-reaction” as Tolle calls it. I know have you exercised it yourself in your own life more than once, maybe when you maintained calm and composure in the face of your daughter’s fury, only to see her return to her tender self ten minutes later. Try it in your community as well.