The Art of Indifference

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overreactingWhen someone says that they never take things personally, I am pretty skeptical. I dislike using infinite words such as never and always. Never and always ought to be banned from our daily vocabulary when describing ourselves or stricken from being used in both our personal and professional lives. Never say never. The universe has a funny way of bringing individuals, situations, and circumstances in our lives that test our mettle.

Some of us are in constant communication and have to interact daily with a variety of individuals. Whether it be: work, talking to your kid’s teachers, accepting a lunch or dinner invitation with friends or colleagues­­—great communication skills are an underestimated art form that takes practice developing. And like I said, when you claim to always communicate well and never run into difficult personalities during your routine interactions with other, I would say you are exceptionally rare. If you haven’t already, you will eventually run into at least one person in your lifetime that can get under your skin like no one else. Most people will often say that it’s the closest people to them, either a spouse or relative. Either way, look at the bright side, challenging people reinforces and sharpen our communication tools while providing us an excellent opportunity to practice the art of indifference.

Indifference can sound like a bad thing, but when used appropriately it can be a masterful weapon against the most obnoxious, rude, or aggravating personality. See, the opposite of indifference is caring. It’s great to be a caring, loving, and sensitive person. But, you have to know when to be. There is a time and place for warm and fuzzy and then there’s a time and place for stoicism.

Practicing indifference is not only useful when it comes to professional settings, but when dealing with people in your life in general.

Caring in the context of the following:

  • Taking things to heart and taking things too personally.
  • Wearing your heart on your sleeve.
  • Able to be easily pushed over the edge.

You have to ask yourself if you are really that fragile? And if you are that’s fine, you know what you need to work on. It’s okay to be sensitive, but there comes a point in time when we have put some space around our feelings.

Steps to help you master the art of indifference:

  • Take a step back before responding in any way. If you can wait a day or so, take that extra time.
  • Be more of a listener and don’t interrupt. Pause before responding to someone in person.
  • Walk away if you need to or if you can, especially if the situation is escalating.
  • Keep your response clear, even toned, and concise.
  • Watch the pitch in your voice and make sure that it is not raised.
  • Make sure to breathe properly- from your core and if you haven’t started meditating, you should try it.

Distancing ourselves allows for us to take a step back. You always want to take a step back because the individual who is vexed is coming from low energy and their low energy will suck you right down with them. Separate yourself from your ego, emotions, take a deep breath and what ever you do, do not respond immediately. In the world of technology where our smart phones allow us to e-mail, text, and communicate via social media with a variety of apps—the temptation to send out We spend too much time over-analyzing over-thinking and over-reactingan angry text, post, or blast is easy especially with unchecked emotions.

When you answer someone with indifference and they are pissed, angry, yelling, or they just have an attitude—responding with even keeled indifference is the best approach. Because your voice is calm, your thoughts are collected, and you are the one behaving professionally—eventually they’ll get the hint that they can’t get under your skin. It can be liberating being indifferent in situations that call for opinions. I have a couple of people in my life that have practically mastered the art of indifference. They tend to shrug things off very easily.

Here is how you know that you’ve gotten pretty close to mastering the art of indifference:

  • You no longer take things personally.
  • You have stopped comparing yourself to other people.
  • You focus on your goals, your vision, your achievements, and where you still need to improve.
  • If some one you know brags about their new award, big job title, new house, gets their script sold, obtains a book deal, wins the lottery— you aren’t jealous or envious. You are actually happy for them, even if you are not even close to meeting your goals yet.
  • When people stop being nice and they are unprofessional, rude, they have a terrible attitude, or they talk to you in that condescending tone— you are still able to maintain your calm spirit and respond respectfully.
  • You no longer over react. Other people’s opinion of you, your lifestyle, and choices do not diminish your self worth and esteem.

Separating yourself from your feelings is the best approach. I certainly haven’t mastered the art of indifference yet. I believe nothing really is truly mastered, there is always room for growth and learning. You can’t truly master something right away, but you can try with one small step at a time. Realize that there are many things that can be worked on slowly with a little practice each day.

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

~Ernest Hemingway



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