Be More Like an Alligator – Grow a Thicker Skin

The world we live in is a strange and wonderful place. It is inhabited by all manner of creatures, and all manner of people too. Some are smart. Some are dumb. Some mean as snakes, others are kind and gentle souls that wouldn’t hurt a thing.

There are motivated driven people and there are lazy ass people who never do any more than the absolute minimum.

You have encouraging people and discouraging people. Then you have bitter ass cynical stupid people who are deeply set in their ways. Such people are toxic to all lives they encounter – and chances are you know at least one such person now.

Who you allow to get close to you and be close to you – not just physical proximity close – but emotionally close, are the people who will have the most impact on your life.

Whether that is good, great or terrible depends on who you let in.

Here is the thing though… Nobody and I mean NOBODY – Can cause you internal problems unless you give them permission to do so. You have to let them in. You have to let their words and opinions influence you. Now if you do, then depending on who it is and what they say or do and how much of it you let in, you can tear yourself up inside. That will affect all that you do and all that you try to do.

I suggest two things. First control who you allow physically close to you on a regular basis – who you associate with, visit, allow to visit you and otherwise to get near you in other words –  and into your inner circle as much as possible. Do not allow toxic negative people to get or remain close to you and avoid all such people as much as humanly possible both in work settings and in your personal life. Now I know that depending on what you do for a living that is very difficult to do if not outright impossible. Unless you change your line of work – and some may need to do that too. But if you don’t want to change what you do then you can still protect yourself by becoming more like an alligator.

No I don’t mean ripping negative or otherwise harmful people to shreds either… What I mean is grow a thicker skin and don’t let other people so easily affect your mindset. Develop an ability to internally filter out negative people and ignore them and their BS. When you do you will feel better and become more productive immediately. In plain words it means simply to develop a healthy disrespect for other peoples bull shit and to not give a crap what they say or think or do. So long as they are not physically trying to harm you or others and not destroying your property their words are just hot air and wind and are as meaningless to you as a leaf in the wind if you make them so.

Yet that is not how we do it is it?

Not most of us most of the time. No, so many of us get so hung up on what he said or she said or they said that we have to repeat it and go over it inside our own heads over and over again. “I cant believe he said that!” or “I cant believe she said that!” or did that, or ” Do you think she thinks…”

Here is the deal though. It doesn’t matter any more than you make it matter. What does matter greatly is what you think. To you and your life anyway. What you think influences your actions which when repeated enough become your habits and make up your life. So I suggest not worrying so much about what other people think and be more concerned with what you think and choose to allow to influence you in any way.

You probably know I love the trucking industry and have long been fascinated with all aspects of it. I started as a driver, drove all over the country and Canada, and then worked in many different capacities over many years from dispatcher to recruiter, safety director, instructor, consultant and author as well as many other positions along the way.

I have trained countless people over many years in all different capacities both in trucking and other things. One of the first things I told them all is that they would need to grow a thicker skin in order to be successful in the trucking business, or any business in which they personally were going to have to deal with other people – and  that includes almost every business in some way or another.  People are going to do dumb things. Say dumb things, and piss you off repeatedly if you allow them to do that.

One example is training someone else to be a recruiter. Recruiting is sales and sales is numbers. That means you will not be successful in recruiting all of the prospective drivers you talk to. So you will be dealing with rejection daily. Whoopee. Its just numbers and if you talk to enough you will get enough yeses. It also matters how you internalize the no’s.

This never ever bothered me and I didn’t look at most as a forever no anyway. I looked at them as not now and I made careful notes and did periodic followups with them all and over the years a huge number of people that initially said no wound up sitting in my orientation classes later on. Other people took it as some kind of personal issue and never made notes, never followed up, never called enough people to begin with because they were reluctant to endure the pain of further rejection.

I don’t see it that way. I see it as I need to get to the next call and the next follow up so I can find my next driver.

The same thing is true when counseling drivers for log violations and sometimes requiring remedial training and or probation. Are they going to be happy about it? Nope. Even though they broke the rules and know they broke the rules – if you are the one enforcing the penalties for it you are the enemy – to some. Not to all, but the few that see you that way will say shit. Sometimes to your face, but more likely behind your back.

So what do you do? Cry about it? Not a good option. Punch them in the mouth…you can think about it if you like – but as Buford T. Justice said;

” Oh you can THINK about it… but Don’t do it…”

You can let it eat you up inside – and that is what most people do. Now if someone is blatantly and openly disrespectful in such a case then don’t get me wrong either – you need to handle that. Inform them that should they insist on continuing to behave that way they can have an opportunity to seek employment elsewhere any time… and when necessary give it to them. Meaning do not tolerate overt bullshit either.

The times when such extreme measures are required are very few. More often than not its just little smart ass remarks, and sometimes not even that. Sometimes its just a persons body language and the look in their eyes. You know they are pissed or irritated or both and not happy with you or the situation at all. I have known many people who could not handle even that properly – they became almost incapacitated and sometimes actually physically reduced to tears themselves! WTF!

But it happens. If you are going to be that overly sensitive you are going to have serious problems in businesses of any type – and most certainly you will have issues in trucking. So get over it and grow a thicker skin and don’t take things so personally or internalize them. Deal with what needs to be dealt with and move on. Don’t worry about the rest.

This is part of life – both personal and business. Here are a few other things that get peoples heart rate up and can be very difficult;

  1. Public Speaking – Having to conduct a lecture, training or meeting in front of a relatively large group… all staring at you and listening to every single word you utter – so you imagine all manner of things going wrong and them all just waiting to criticize every little mistake you make. That is enough to give many people cold sweats and nightmares a day or so before – not to mention knots in the stomach. You know what though – if you see it the right way, and get practice at it you can learn to actually look forward to your talk and enjoy it ! Besides that most of the things you imagine going wrong never happen – they don’t really exist except inside your own head, and more often than not the majority of people actually WANT to hear what you have to say, especially if it helps them somehow solve a problem or challenge they are facing. If you can be the least bit interesting in how you present your material – and I know you can if you try, both your audience and you can actually enjoy the experience. Really…
  2. Conducting Evaluations and Assessments – You are going to sit down with someone and tell them how they did and give them recommendations on how they can improve. Comfy with that? Most people aren’t. If you know not only what to say but more importantly how to say it, and you practice and get experience doing this it also becomes easy.
  3. Terminations – If you own a business or function as any kind of manager in one sooner or later you are going to have to fire someone. There are definitely right ways and wrong ways to do this – and doing it the wrong way can trigger strong emotions – even violence – easily. Personally I think you really must have some training here or you are at serious risk of all kinds of problems. But if you know what you are doing – it is not nearly as big of a deal – not for you or the person being let go. Though it will never be pleasant (unless you are evil) it can be made much more tolerable. Failing to terminate people when they should be terminated puts the entire organization at risk, so again this is a required part of business life – in trucking, in real estate, in chiropractic centers, factories, construction, retail – doesn’t matter it must be done at times, so how would (or will you) handle it if you have to do it?
  4. Interviews – The other side of that is hiring new people. Part of that is interviewing prospects. This makes some interviewers very nervous and uncomfortable. Others handle it just fine. How about you?

So how do you grow a thicker skin and deal with unpleasant people and or unpleasant situations effectively?

Ideally you get some training. Then you practice what you learn. Then you apply it in the real world – and apply it – and apply it. You get the idea – the more you do it the easier it becomes. It is a learnable skill set.

If you want to get not only training but get a chance to practice these skills in a supportive online group training setting, and then have an opportunity to continue getting support while you develop a thicker skin and new skills – then become a member and attend an upcoming live training class available to our members only.

Whether you get it from us or someone else – get some training, then practice drill and rehearse to develop your skills – and grow a thicker skin!

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