Last blog we discussed what to do if people have upset us in the past and we are still letting it bother us. Today we will examine a great way to reduce the stress and strain of people upsetting us in the present. How to deal with that face to face anger that sometimes we may encounter.
If you work with the public, or deal with the public or even just deal with other people in your daily life, which should just about cover everybody, one of the greatest and most common challenges is…well other people. We all know if everybody in our lives would just play by our rules and understand that we are always right there would be no issue there. Unfortunately the boss does not always understand how difficult it is to get out of a warm bed on a cold day. Your spouse may not always understand how ‘one more drink’ became three. In other words the bad news is at some point in your life people will be mad at you. On a rare occasion they may even have a reason to be. So what than? How can we somehow not get stressed about someone screaming in close proximity to us? How can we use a person who is practicing replacing our name with different profanities as a growing experience? As I try to improve my own life these are the type of questions I find myself asking. Trust me if you wait until that person is in front of you to ask the question you may decide to distress by closing their mouth for them and the only thing growing may be your legal problems. So here is a little exercise you can get used to and practice that I find turns those experiences literally into a game and often leaves both parties feeling better when parting. A big promise, but I think if you stick with me you will see how it all comes together and thus reduce one of the most common stresses from your life.
here is the ‘magic formula’, it may sound to simple, it may sound like it will not work, but trust me after you master it you will be successful nine times out of ten. There are some people who just have severe social issues and cannot be reached. They are not our concern and really should be used as humorous fodder. So what is the idea already? Here is the plan. First, let the people vent for a little while. I don’t know when I am upset being interrupted can only be equated to throwing gasoline on a fire. When you feel you have a grasp of what ever life threatening event has them ready to start the next world war, then interrupt. Now, there is a very specific way to do this. Even if the event is pretty cut and dry, such as your dog does not understand property lines when needing to relive himself, still recap with a simple phrase showing you are interested in their issue. An example is “Just to make sure we are on the same page…” or “To make sure I understand what is upsetting you…” in addition to showing them you care it forces you to listen to what they are saying as you are pondering just how to word your question. The next thing is something that can totally turn this person who may be picturing you in some terrible compromising position into your best friend. While listening to there list of complaints with the state of the world, look for something you can honestly compliment them on. Do they have a nice shirt on? Are they wearing a nice fragrance? this part takes practice and skill as does bringing it to their attention. I caution you not to try flattery which I am not a big fan of anyway, false praise comes across as such and can often generate further anger. It is even better if you can ask them a question about the compliment. The reason you want to do this is because it forces them to think about what you said. A great example of how to do this would be “I understand you are upset fido fertilized your flowers without asking, but I have to ask you what is that amazing fragrance you are wearing? It smells so familiar but I can’t quite place it?” I have even taken it one step further, but I will get to that in a moment. after discussing a legitimate compliment paid in their favor, and again a stress make it real, you would be surprised how the conversation can change.
All of this may sound unbelievable so let me provide a recent example. A lady walked into the post office with a bill for her post office box that was due on January 31st. She had come in on the 28th to discover that the price had went up 2 dollars from the amount shown. No notice was given to her and she already had her check made out. She wasn’t late, the price had just changed. She had a right to be upset. This woman, however, took it one step further and went on for roughly ten minutes on the lack of intelligence of the lady helping her, how terrible the organization was. By the time I was called up there she had worked herself into quite a stressful state for both her and all of those around her. I calmly asked if I could make sure I had this right. “You are upset because you are paying a pill that you were told would be one amount if paid by the 31st and here it is the 28th and we are asking for two dollars more? I don’t blame you for being upset” That simple act of understanding why she was upset started to calm her down. I explained that our goal was to get her Post office box renewed and that regretfully our computers did not allow us to charge her the old price. She suddenly ‘remembered’ she had two dollars in the car. As she walked out (which gave her time to breath as well as the sales associate) I started thinking I needed to find something nice to point about this lady. When she walked back in I noticed she had black pants and a plain black jacket. No luck there. Her hair was cut short and simple. Again not much to work with. She had no discernible wonderful scent. Then I noticed the rims on her glasses were an awesome red color I had never seen. Keep in mind I went through all of this in about 1 minute. If you just stand there staring at someone who may cause the anger level to rise again. So I said “I thank you for understanding about this unfortunate computer error with our pricing and I wish to get you taken care of right away, but as I am doing so I have to ask where you purchased those glasses I have never seen such an amazing color” She thought for a second and told me the name of the store. I knew there was one close to where I live and asked her if that was the location she went to. She told me no it was the one down the street. I again told her I would love to see what color they have for men and could she tell me what street it was on. (I don’t wear glasses by the way). She thought again and gave me cross streets. I thanked her for the information and began to apologize for the misunderstanding she came in for in the first place. Her reply shocked everyone who was there “No I should have paid my bill right when I got it” I countered with “Truly we will look into notifying people if the price changes in the future. I can understand how upsetting that would be” She replied “It’s not that upsetting. I’m sorry you just caught me on a bad day” So there may have been more to this lady’s anger. She left apologizing to me and I think feeling if she did not have a good experience and least did not have a bad one.
Enough practice with this and you almost feel as though you are playing a game. I felt a sense of accomplishment when that lady left. She felt a little less upset. I think it was a win for all parties concerned.