Recently, for the first time in many years, I received a reprimand.

In one establishment, I tried to pass through a narrow corridor from which a woman was exiting. The woman looked at me with a displeased expression and said to me, “Sir, where are you rushing to? Let me calmly exit.”

In that moment, I caught myself thinking that my first instinctive reaction made me defensive and even hostile towards the offender. I immediately wanted to retort something sarcastic to her, like: “Who’s stopping you? Go ahead and exit as much as you want!” or “Can’t you hurry up a bit?” But as soon as I restrained my initial impulse and took a few seconds to think, the situation started to appear in a completely different light to me.

I looked at the situation from her perspective and realized that the woman was right: the corridor was indeed narrow, and it would be cramped for both of us; I should have waited for her to exit.

Moreover, by the second second, I realized that I often find myself in the position of this woman when my personal space is encroached upon by other people. I remembered how much I disliked such situations myself and how I made remarks to other people. Most often, in such situations, I heard in response to my remarks such words as: “Who do you think you are to make remarks to me?” or “Come on, move along, I don’t need any remarks from you!”

Will I become like these people, responding irritably and aggressively to fair remarks from others?

It took me two seconds for all these thoughts to flash through my mind. On the third second, I pulled myself together, smiled at the woman, and apologized.

How do you react to fair remarks from others?

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