Stop Giving Them This Power over You!

Susanne is a responsible driver, no doubt. On her way to work she entered a narrow part of the street at the same time as a cab driver. Only one of them would fit and the cabby looked determined to stay where he was. Susanne was already preparing to back up, when an older gentleman, wearing a hat, pulled up behind her and blew his horn. There she was, stuck between a cabby and an old guy with a hat. Susanne still wore a smile on her face and pondered getting out of the car with her book and read a bit until one of the gentlemen decided to budge. Eventually the cabby backed up and Susanne as well as the old guy with his hat drove through the narrow street. Appearantly this posed some sort of victory for the senior, as Susanne could tell by a quick glance in the rear mirror.

This was undoubtedly an aggressive situation of some sort. The blustering cab driver sure made it look that way. So did the grumbling gaffer. Susanne however brushed off the incident with a smirk and entered her workplace in a calm and cheerful mood, maybe feeling a little, adrenalin-induced blush on her cheeks.

What drives the drivers?

If we can subtract the subjective part from being harmed, we end up with less harm done.

When situations like this occur it makes perfect sense to evaluate the players within any given situation according to their motivating factors. What was the cabby's motive for not budging at first? He wanted to drive. Forwards. He wasn't thinking beyond this. He did not see Susanne, the person. He merely saw Susanne, the obstacle. What about the senior? He has time on his hands. Unlike the cabby he was not in a rush. He saw a matter of principle involved here. Here was a chance to ascertain his manliness to himself without so much as getting out of breath, a truly rare opportunity in deed. And there was Susanne. She simply wanted to get to work. But she wasn't in a hurry. And her driving was in no way connected to her sense of personal pride.

When hatred with his package comes...

In his song "You have loved enough", Leonard Cohen sings the line: "When hatred with his package comes You forbid delivery." What does this mean for Susanne?

Susanne could have let this situation get to her. She could have reacted with anger, aggravation even hate towards the cabby. She could have felt helpless and she could have held that grudge throughout the day. This small incident could have shaped her perception of humanity. It could have affected Susanne's mood and behavior towards her colleagues and family members, had she held on to this unpleasant minute on her commute to work. She did not. She brushed it off and her day went well.

The Harm-Subtraction-Equation

If we take a look at what truly drives people to their actions it can be quite comforting. People rarely set out in order to harm someone else. If we can subtract the subjective part of being harmed, we end up with less harm done. When hatred with his package comes, you forbid delivery.