Have you ever been berated or cursed out by a complete stranger?
Honked at for no reason?
Have you had your boss embarrass you in front of coworkers or in a meeting?
Have you ever had to deal with a disgruntled customer, even though you did nothing wrong... and pretend that they are "always right"?
It is unbelievable how many times in our lives we have to deal with things that aren't even our fault!
I was thinking about this the other day and it hit me like a ton of bricks.... I'm watching my kids interact with each other and one of them sits close to the other one. The one originally sitting there doesn't like how close his sister is so he scoots her with his hips and says, "Move over, I was here first."
She is offended. She wanted to sit close to him, and yet she also knew that sitting that close would make him mad. Why does she want to make him mad? I have no idea. Neither does he. So she shoves herself back to his hip, even more invasive than before.
This time he shoves her away from him and says, "I was here first! Stop it!"
She doesn't like being shoved so she shoves him back.
He doesn't like that so he hits her.
She doesn't like being hit so she hits him back.
I come over, as any parent would, telling them that we don't use our hands to communicate and they are both in trouble. Both have to go to time out. As I am explaining to them that they have to take being hit or shoved without hitting back... I catch myself.
What in the world am I saying?
I don't know any adult, let alone child, who would get shoved or hit and not want to defend themselves. It's also completely legal to defend yourself. So technically... I'm telling my 3 and 5 year old children that they aren't allowed to defend themselves, ignore all instincts of human survival and calmly handle the situation with an amount of emotional and physical self control that I have actually never witnessed.
I stopped mid sentence to try and think how I would handle that situation in my adult life... and then I told my son, "I completely understand why you did what you did. If someone bombarded me like that and wouldn't leave me alone when I clearly told them I needed my space, I would probably push them too. It's really hard to control our emotions in a situation like that. For adults, we have to be careful who we hit, though, or we can get in a lot of trouble. If someone is hurting you to the point that you cannot get away and you feel like you are in danger, you can hurt them back in self-defense. But if you can get away, take a minute to cool down before you act. Take a few deep breaths, ask an adult for help, and then when you feel like you are in control of your body, you can go back and talk to them about what they did. The best way to do that is to ask them why they did it, and if there is anything you can do to help them get what they want. Does that make sense?"
Of course he said, "Yes, Mom," but I have no idea if he understood what I meant! LOL.
I just thought it was interesting that I was expecting a completely inhuman response from a 5 year old.
I think we put this on each other in conflicts as adults as well. When someone comes at us in a rage, we immediately think, "Who the hell are you to be talking to me like that!"
And rightfully so! You don't deserve that! But is that going to de-escalate the situation or just make it worse. I've never seen an argument settled when both parties are yelling at each other. Usually either a fight breaks out and the last one conscious wins, or someone has to walk away to cool down.
I have been in a situation where I have been yelled at for no fault of my own and it is really hard to keep my cool.
If you work in retail or customer service, you know the feeling.
But I have learned that I can calm a screaming person in as little as 5 minutes with these simple tips:
1.) Validate Their Emotion
Let them know that you completely understand why they are upset. You would be upset too if you were faced with this situation.
2.) Ask More Questions
Ask them a lot of questions! Get to the reason behind their rage or discomfort. As soon as you know that, you will know how you can help.
3.) Give Them Their Next Step
People will appreciate someone who takes action. You would be surprised how far a phone call will go. When they see that you have the same goal they do, they start to see you as an ally instead of an enemy. Even if you cannot solve their problem, pointing them in the right direction can be just as effective. Give them a number to call a resource, a form to fill out, am email to send, or a success story to believe in.
What's great about this is that it works in all areas of your life! At work, at home, with your spouse, kids, friends, family members, coworkers, group members, etc!
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