On maintaining state

// 1.97 min read

Yesterday, I went up to the local Co-op (a grocery store/chain here in :uk:) to grab some eggs. I was at the checkout when there was a flurry of communication between two staff-members pointing out two young men in one of the aisles. One of them had apparently been caught earlier in the day attempting to smuggle chocolate in his pockets without paying, and one of the staff had identified him and suspected he was doing it again.

He turned out some of his pockets in an attempt to preempt the staff’s demands and to prove his innocence. He began protesting and getting cross. He started raising his voice at the staff and calling them names. He began trying to leave the store quickly before the staff had a chance to search his other pocket further. Once outside the store, the staff stood there to ensure he didn’t come back in, while he continued to verbally defend what he saw as his moral high ground.

The other lad who was with him though, he kept his cool. He had an item in his hand at the time when the staff pointed them out. Regardless of his intentions, I could see that he had a sense for what was about to happen. As his friend chose to react one way, he calmly walked up to the cashier, paid for whatever it was he had chosen, walked towards the door and grabbed his friend by the elbow and pulled him away down the street while he kept shouting back at the grocery staff.

There’s an interesting lesson there about maintaining one’s state.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the right or the wrong, or if your intent was pure or otherwise—it’s the way you react to a situation that gives you the most control over the way your reality unfolds. Your ability to be aware of—and remain in command of—your physical and emotional state directly controls how other people will perceive and interact with you.

This applies in your personal life just as much as your professional life—and yes, it even applies to a trip to the grocery store or the airport or to the movies too.

If there’s something in your life that isn’t going the way you want, double-check your state. How might it be inviting interactions with others that aren’t in your favour?

Coby Chapple (@cobyism)

@cobyism—a.k.a. Coby Chapple is an autodidact, systems thinker, product architect, pixel technician, full-stack algorithmagician, multi-media maker, cryptography geek, aspiring linguist, and generalist Designerd™ extraordinaire. Read more »