In my work life, I tend to encourage my clients to imagine that everyone they interact with currently has or has had some sort of problem in their life. These problems tend to shape our personalities, which include both the admirable traits as well as the flaws we ALL have. If we can first acknowledge the problems we've encountered, the character flaws we gained as an effect, and treat others as if they, too, have/had a problem, our daily interactions will greatly improve.
With such a negative connotation, we must fully understand the word "problem" before assuming everyone has one (or several). A problem is " a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome." When viewed as situations that are unwelcome and harmful, we can speculate that at some point, in every person's life, they will encounter some problem that will impact their life, whether that problem is identified and solved or not. As individuals, It is not our job to point out someone's problem, blame them for the problem, or even solve the problem; we simply must treat others with patience, kindness, decency and dignity as if they've endured something that has greatly impacted their life and blurred their outlook.
Just as our successes and triumphs tend to make us more determined and hardworking, our unavoidable problems have the power to make us unpleasant, rude, distrustful, jealous, obnoxious, mean, selfish, and even violent. For example, growing up without my parents made me doubtful that I could ever depend on anyone. Developing a "no assistance needed" attitude made me an overly-independent person who did not know how to ask for or even accept help when I truly needed it. Additionally, my problem leads me to subconsciously judge others who appear to be continuously needy. Each day in my work especially, I'm reminded that everyone's life experiences cultivate different traits. My ever-growing ability to acknowledge the challenges or lived experiences that make us all who we are, (the good, bad, and especially the ugly), allows me to more effectively and positively interact with others.
It is important to know that our problems are not an excuse for poor behavior or mistreatment of others and we all have issues we must deal with and overcome but we have to admit that we all have a reason for the way we are and the things we do. I believe that acknowledging the hurt in others makes us more compassionate, understanding and instills in us, the ability to see situations from multiple vantage points. In every part of our day, we have the potential to encounter someone with a problem they have not acknowledged and/or addressed, so it's important that we are not immediately dismissive of that person's unspoken struggle. Maybe the cashier with the attitude has been told she would never achieve more success; perhaps your micro-managing boss had an experience of people not being accountable and committed to the work, perchance that abusive partner endured or witnessed abuse during their childhood. While we set the standard for how people should treat us, try to take time to think about everything that may have transpired in a person’s life. No matter the circumstance, we are bound to run into people with less than positive attitudes/outlooks so we must go forth and treat each other with empathy, understanding, and a willingness to understand that everyone is either fighting a silent battle, or lost a battle in the past and their demeanor is an unhealed wound.