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The Power of Being Unoffendable


The power of being unoffendable is one of the most underrated, but also one of the most important skills to develop. Being easily offended is a sign that you’re allowing other people to have power over your feelings.


Remember how we talked about self-awareness and clarity? This is a very concrete way to practice those skills. There are core hurts in your life that cause you to react certain ways to certain stimuli, usually in anger. A great example of that for me has been driving in traffic, and getting mad because someone is in front of me driving 30 mph in a 40 mph area. The fault lies with me for being late in the first place, not them. It’s not their fault I left late, it’s mine. I was late to a meeting last week and was stressed out. I’d been sitting at the bank processing a deposit for far longer than usual, then I realized I was out of gas and had to stop and fill up, and because of that, I had 8 minutes to make it across town. You can guess how well that went.


As I drove down Bell Street, it seemed like everyone around me was going 10 miles an hour under the speed limit. Maybe they were, or maybe that was just my perception; in either case, why would I give them the power to upset me because they were driving slow? I remember sitting there, offended and frustrated, and then laughing at myself when I realized what I was doing. It really is freeing to let go of offense.

 

Being easily offended is a sign that you’re allowing other people to have power over your feelings.

 

I have a new business partner who was on a call with me and another colleague. This colleague was, for some reason, trying to pick a fight and was trying so hard to offend and get him to react. Marcus calmly refused to take the bait, instead just carrying on with the meeting as if nothing offensive was said. After the meeting I was telling my other business partner, Chris, about what had happened, and he asked how Marcus had handled it. I told him that Marcus was unoffendable. Chris, surprised, asked me, “How does someone become unoffendable?”


Becoming unoffendable ties back to the power of words. Being offended or unoffended takes a decision. You are deciding whose words matter to you enough that you would be offended by them. Be careful when you choose who has that power in your life because when you make that choice, they better be a very key person in your life. You’re giving them power over your life when you are offended by their words. Part of becoming self-aware is going through and recognizing places and people who offend you, and learning why.


Last year, I was flying to Dallas and there was a man a few rows up who was having words with the flight attendant. It was impossible not to hear, since we were on a plane and pretty close to one another. Apparently the flight attendant hadn’t treated the man the way he had expected and he was angry. Further, he requested something she couldn’t provide and he became even more offended that she would refuse him. This scene escalated and became quite ugly. The fact the flight attendant was able to offend that man to that degree meant he was giving her great power over his emotions.


The question is, who are you going to give that authority and power to offend you?

Is there an authority in your life? I have one ultimate authority and that's God. My wife is a second authority in my life, and choosing not to be offended by her words helps me understand what she's really saying, instead of responding with anger and words that are unguarded, that could be hurtful. Something to be aware of is that when we become offended, we become offensive. You can apologize but you can never take words back once they’ve been said.


Exercise: One way to test how offendable you are is to observe your emotions when driving. That’s also a very good place to practice becoming unoffendable because the other people can’t hear you, so if you make a mistake, you haven’t hurt anyone with your words.

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