Discarding the Monster Box

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Your business will improve if you remember some important facts. One is that we are all more alike than different. The other is that we must all put away the monster box we often bring out and righteously put others into. I’m referring to the place in our minds where we put certain people, who upon observing their behavior, we conclude are stupid, harmful and could do better. We were introduced to the monster box when we were little and adopted it without scrutinizing its soundness. This article is about understanding very basic things about people that make a monster box a very bad idea.

“A man who picks up a cat by its tail will learn a lesson he can learn no other way.”    

~ Mark Twain

If you pick up a cat by the tail, you can be sure that cat will try very hard to hurt you. If you swing it around, it will try to hurt you more. The same is true in reverse. Say you give your pet the most patient, kind, consistent positive treatment; within about a week, most pets will have learned ways to please you, will want to please you, and will eventually be passionately loyal to you for life. This is because mostly you get as good as you give, AND you must give first.

Every interaction you have with others causes reactions. You may have never considered this and how we all want the same very basic things even though we have a huge diversity in how we go about trying to get them. They all boil down to this: we want to be in the presence of people who are trustworthy, principled, courageous, competent, loyal, kind, understanding, forgiving and unselfish. Despite this, we hold these from others out of fear of pain. For every one hundred people you meet, only two of them are likely to return your kindness with unkindness and try to make you feel stupid, bad and inadequate. What most people do without realizing it, is learn to guard against that 2% while foregoing the awesomeness of the 98% who would meet them in reciprocal kindness.

Test this out if you think I’m naïve or overly idealistic. Go out and smile at people. Say hello with sincere warmth. 98 out of 100 times, others will smile and say hello back. But if you wait until they say it first, you will experience the much more common experience of no one doing anything. I call this maintaining the ‘you-could-be-a-monster-that-should-go-into-the-monster-box’ attitude.

I smile every time the subject of monster boxes comes up. Often, people fight to hold onto their monster box concept. They say, “Aren’t there some people who should go in the monster box?” I tell them “no”; that while a pet needs about a week of constant wonderfulness to go all in with us, humans need about six months to trust constancy in us. Knowing this, doesn’t it make sense to help your people learn to go first and go positive? I have proof this creates the most amazing outcomes.

Test it for yourself. Go first – practice constancy for six months in which you hold no one at arms’ length. You are kind, trustworthy, loyal, understanding, principled and forgiving. You may find that even those who once appeared monster-like, transform before your very eyes. If you want help in cultivating this in your business, it’s the best investment you could make. I’m here to support you.

This article was published in the column The Extraordinary Workplace in the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, November 2019

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