HAVE you ever been fishing?
I’m not a fan myself but I’m sure that you understand the basic principle. You attach a piece of bait to a hook and dangle it in the water.
What then happens is that some unsuspecting fish comes along, bites the bait, ends up on the hook, and you reel it in.
Let’s just go back a few steps.
As the fish is swimming around, it is totally in control of its own destiny. It can swim anywhere it likes and it can eat anything it fancies.
When it is confronted with the fisherman’s bait, it has the choice whether to bite it or not.
If it decides not to take the bait, it can swim on its merry way and live its life to the full.
“But it’s a fish,” you say, “and it’ll probably take the bait.”
When it does, that’s the fish in trouble. Instead of being in charge of its own destiny, the fisherman is now in charge. The fish will get stressed and will probably lose its life.
Of course, you are not a fish, but other people, difficult people, will try to get you on the line — they will try to hook you.
This is not something they do consciously. However, by what they say, what they do and how they look, they are dangling bait in front of you.
If you choose to take that bait, then the difficult person is in charge of your behaviour. You may have heard people say things such as:
“She makes me really mad!” (Hooked)
“His behaviour really annoys me!” (Hooked)
“How dare she speak to me like that?!” (Hooked)
“If he thinks I’m just going to do what he wants, he’s crazy!” (Hooked)
“How could she come in here dressed like that?!” (Hooked)
These responses are based on our view of the world, how we were brought up, our culture and what we believe to be right.
When you allow other people to hook you by how they look, speak or behave, then you are in danger of communicating your feelings to them.
This will become apparent by the words you use, your tone of voice and your body language.
This is stressful for you and potentially inhibits your ability to manage a person whom you perceive as “difficult”.
Do not allow other people to choose your behaviour for you — in other words, “don’t get hooked”.
I am reminded of a sign I saw under a mounted fish. It read: “If I had kept my mouth shut, I wouldn’t be here.”
Sometimes, you need to take a deep breath and walk away without saying a word. You remove yourself from a potentially dangerous situation and remain calm and rational.