"Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it - what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone."
Barely a day goes by that you don't witness someone, and it may be you, taking offense at something someone else did. Someone either mindlessly, or purposely, did something that hurt, annoyed, or insulted someone else. Now the fun begins. Come on, you know that some people find sport in driving other people running to lick their wounds. And then again, we all know people who are just waiting for the next offense. It's their thing and they really kind of love it in a weird way. It gets them attention. Here's the thing; it's a waste of time. Life is too short to waste time, and time is the one commodity we have that can't be replaced once it's wasted.
I remember a day when the dentist I worked for gave a somewhat snippy response to a staff member. It was just a careless moment of attitude but when you looked at that staff member you could predict what the rest of the day would be like. She was immediately offended. She was hurt out of proportion to the offense. Then I watched as other staff members made eye contact with her and shot her concerned glances of sympathy and support. Now she knew this was going to be worth playing out because the payoff would be big in terms of attention and commiseration. Meanwhile, the completely oblivious dentist went on with the morning huddle. Once she went to her desk, the tears were bravely suppressed until one was finally allowed to slide down her cheek. Then the hugs began and the dentist was verbally lynched. At one point later in the day she approached me and said she was so upset at how she'd been treated. I told her she'd be better off learning to practice discipling her responses and becoming difficult to offend. I pointed out that she'd spent her morning playing the one line insult over and over in her mind and assigning intention to it, making herself thoroughly miserable. If she had just let it go right away, she'd have had a much more pleasant day. She said, "I know you're right but it's hard." I asked her what was hard about it. She told me he hurt her feelings. I said, "Only because you let it go to your feelings." The light finally dawned and she said, "I never realized that." Unfortunately, she had mentioned the incident to the dentist's wife who called her out on it at a staff meeting in front of the dentist saying, "You told me he bit your head off." The dentist said nothing. Maybe he is hard to offend.
Another incident comes to mind. A dentist I worked for kept a patient waiting for almost an hour after getting her numb. We had been very busy with an emergency, but no one had gone it to tell the waiting patient that. By the time the dentist entered the room she was livid. He said, "Let's get to work." The patient was furious and demanded that he apologize for keeping her waiting. This patient had broken several appointments in the recent past and the dentist was annoyed at her for that. He gave a very insincere, almost sarcastic apology which further enraged the patient. She told him he was being rude and demanded a better apology. He brought up her missed appointments and told her he felt she owed him an apology. The patient was now so furious she began to cry and ripped her patient napkin off and stormed out of the office. Both people chose to be offended. The patient left the practice and took her husband with her. The dentist lost two patients and I recently witnessed the patient's husband relaying the situation to another dentist. Too bad he wasn't hard to offend.
Being offended takes our attention, and often the attention of those around us, away from our patients and puts it on nonsense. Our patients trust us. They chose us. They deserve our attention and they deserve our best. Being hard to offend takes our attention off ourselves, quiets our egos and calms our minds. It puts our attention back where it belongs, on the patient. And no one will be offended by that.