As much as we all may agree with the concept that “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind,” being in the presence of someone who’s acting like a jerk and not acting like a jerk ourselves is a huge challenge.
As it turns out, an early 20th century French philosopher was keen to this human condition, and he developed a concept for staying cool that still holds up today. When faced with an angry person, don’t get angry—instead look for his or her “pin.”
The “pin,” as this video explains, is the condition or situation in this person’s life that is causing him/her to act rudely. Maybe he’s just lost his mother. Maybe the bank is foreclosing on her home. Maybe she grew up never having been taught kindness or compassion. You get the idea.
If we think about the source of the other person’s suffering, we are much less likely to respond in anger—so the theory goes. It reminds me of the quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
The philosopher behind this idea, Emile-Auguste Chartier, used the example of a baby being poked by a pin (cloth diapers and corresponding diaper pins being the only diapering option back in the early 1900’s). Until an adult figures out that the pin is the source of the baby’s crying, he or she will try everything—to no avail—to quiet him, and may even come to deem the baby as inherently “fussy” or “difficult.”
As Lifehacker points out, you don’t want to take this approach to the point of being a doormat, but allowing yourself to feel pity for the person who just knowingly skipped you in line instead of anger will probably serve you better in the long run.
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