Quakers try to ‘see the God (for some this is ‘good’) in everyone’. This is not always easy, especially when emotions cloud our judgement. Or perhaps we don’t take enough care to really listen to someone, and so find it difficult to understand their point of view?

Old habits die hard, and I do recognise a tendency to get irritated when I am frustrated by something someone does or says. So what frustrates me? On example is when people say they are going to do something but then don’t. Of course there may be a very good reason for this but I do feel annoyed if not doing something seems to be due to a lack of commitment, for example, or care. This can be especially acute when the person concerned does not seem to have thought about the possible impact on others of their not following through with what they agreed to do.

This happened recently and it was necessary to have a conversation with the person concerned. I discovered that they had forgotten they had made the commitment as they had been bogged down with ‘personal stuff’. At the same time, it was clear that they could not see why the matter was relevant and so it was necessary to explain the situation once again. Before picking up the phone I noticed my irritation and so took some deep breaths and tried not to leap to judgement. When I got through I also tried to listen carefully and to empathise. At the same time it was necessary to be clear and assertive, and it seemed to work.

What else? I can get mildly frustrated when I get into an especially slow queue and I am in a hurry. Sometimes I feel irritated at myself for choosing the ‘wrong’ queue but it can also be when the checkout person is particularly slow, or they take time to talk to someone who may or may not be a personal friend of theirs. What I try to remind myself of however is that the checkout person may be having a difficult day, may be tired, or perhaps is learning the task. And I also remind myself that for some folk, the conversation they have on the checkout may be the only contact they have with someone that day. This may also be an example of kindness being shown to someone in need. So in the moment I do try to practise mindfulness or remind myself of things I am grateful for, as well as noticing if I start criticising someone in my mind. But as I have said on previous days, it’s work in progress!