Nevertheless, no matter what business you are in, you probably make a good part of your money through your dealings with irrational customers, colleagues, or employees.
The world being what it is, there are few ways to make a living without having to deal with some unreasonable, overbearing individuals. Your efficiency and happiness depend to a great extent on your ability to deal with that kind of persons.
I have tried different approaches through the years. Avoiding nonsense altogether doesn't work, since you won't be able to remake the world according to your likes and dislikes. Getting angry doesn't work either, since you will only be creating stress for yourself without actually improving anything.
My personal solution to irrational attacks consists of simply saying one word. "Maybe," I reply when I face enthusiastic defenders of some crazy theory. For the sake of variety, I also say "possibly" from time to time.
Do you consider my approach a lowly form of compromise? It is not. Think twice. Most of us would be already millionaires if we had been paid for all the hours that we have wasted in useless discussions. Let me show you what happens when you say "maybe" to common, everyday nonsense.
- "The world is coming to and end. You have to be anxious and depressed." Maybe, but I will start worrying when I actually see civilization fall apart.
- "Saving is useless. You are much better off living in the moment." Maybe, but I will stop saving when I have tangible guarantees that my financial future is properly taken care of.
- "You have to read newspapers everyday. Otherwise, without constant new information, you will lose your competitive edge." Maybe, but I will wait until I see proof that my minimum-information approach is no longer effective.
- "Eating healthy food is a waste of time. Cancer can hit anybody and there is nothing you can do to prevent it." Maybe, but good nutrition has kept me healthy for many years and I see no reason to change my ways.
- "Markets are going down and opportunity is shrinking." Maybe, but that does not prevent me from taking action to pursue those opportunities that remain available.
- "Nobody thinks long-term any more. There is no point in looking ahead beyond next quarter." Maybe, but having a long-term vision has always helped me take right decisions in the present, so it is something that I intend to keep.
- "In life, everybody has to face some sort of frustration or failure. Attempts at happiness are doomed to failure." Maybe, but that does not prevent me from looking for solutions to my problems and achieving as much happiness as I can.
- "Times are hard and mean. You rarely meet good people any more." Maybe, but that gives me a strong incentive to look for those who have decided to remain rational and honest.
Don't waste time debating with people who are not listening. Why should you engage in heated disputes where your opinion won't make any difference? Let the foolish go their own way so that you can go yours.
[Image by E under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]