April Jeppson: We should try to treat everyone as a friend
Published 8:45 pm Friday, November 5, 2021
Every Little Thing by April Jeppson
I got into an argument the other week with a friend of mine. For the most part I live a pretty drama-free life. My friends and family are awesome, and we are very supportive and kind to each other. But the world isn’t made up of unicorns and fairy dust (unfortunately), and occasionally feathers get ruffled.
They got upset about something I did and then got mad at me for it. I, not thinking I did anything wrong, then got mad at them for getting unjustifiably mad at me. A brief heated discussion ensued and we parted ways, still upset.
The evening went by and then into the next day. This encounter was about the only thing I could think about. I couldn’t wrap my head around why this instance made them so angry. I felt bad for the way I responded and knew that if I wasn’t already having a crappy day, I probably wouldn’t have said some of the things I said. Normally I’m a very open friend and very willing to work on my shortcomings, especially if they are upsetting to others in some way. However, on that day, I just had nothing nice left in me and my friend got the brunt of it.
The next day I talked to them and apologized for the way I handled the confrontation. I explained how this was just the cherry on top of a very stressful day, and I told them I was sorry for how I responded. I was surprised to hear that they had also done some reflecting and they, too, had been dealing with some stresses at home. When my friend opened up about all that they were going through and why my normal actions all of a sudden triggered them, it made sense. We were just two people, in bad moods, that collided over literally nothing — an accident waiting to happen.
We talked, hugged and now we laugh about that time that we were both “coming in hot.”
So, as I often do, I was reflecting on this. Because they are my friend, and I care deeply about them and their feelings, I needed to right my wrong. I needed to discuss it further, but under more calm circumstances. I needed to really understand the situation from their perspective. I needed to figure out if I honestly did something that was offensive, and if I did, then make whatever changes I could, so that I wouldn’t be mindlessly hurting their feelings in the future.
But what if this interaction wasn’t with a dear friend? What if this was with a co-worker I had little in common with? What if this happened in line at the grocery store? What if this happened online? Would I put forth this level of effort? Would I have listened to their side of the story? Would I have extended this much grace? Would I have been this willing to change my behavior if I had upset a stranger?
I’ve been reflecting on this situation for quite some time. Can you imagine a world where we treated everyone as if they were our good friends? We’d naturally be nicer. We would forgive so much faster. We would easily write off rude behavior as them having a bad day. In fact, treating everyone as a friend would make my life less stressful as well.
I think I’m going to try this.
Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.