I wonder how much of going into a situation thinking one person is right over another can cause more friction. Maybe, the proper viewpoint would be to go into a scenario completely open. Then if a person is being difficult, or if a solution needs to be recommended, an individual who is open to all possibilities can offer their wisdom.
Let me give you an example. Recently, I was trying to go through the Midtown Tunnel in Manhattan. It was raining very heavily, and I couldn't see exactly where I was going. What I could make out was that I needed to cross over to the cash lane to pay the toll. As I switched over lanes, I was stopped by an aggressive officer. He immediately asked me for my license and registration.
"Whose car is this?" he asked.
"It's a rental," I said.
"Give me the rental agreement," he said.
I handed the officer the rental agreement. Then he did the most unusual thing. He asked me to back up.
"Back up!" he shouted. "Back up! Back up! More!! Back up!!!"
I backed up 15 feet back to the merging lane for the tunnel. Then the officer leaned into the window and told me I had to go back into the merging lane and merge past the orange cones that were laid out.
"I'll let you go this time with a warning," he said. "Pay attention to the cones next time!"
"Okay," I said.
It would have been at this point in my younger days that I may have gotten a bit angry at this officer. If I were younger, I would have told him how inappropriate it was to treat me like a five year old. I didn't though. I had places to be. I could see the situation going smoothly without an incident or creating more friction. I opted for a situation without friction. I simply followed orders to achieve the path of least resistance.
Was there another path of least resistance I could have taken? Is there a moment where we need to acknowledge how someone has crossed a boundary with us, or is it more important to zoom out and see the bigger picture before we react with anger or harsh words? What do you think?