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You Never Know What's Going on When Someone is Acting Poorly

Posted on: Oct 05, 2012 - 07:13 AM | General | Comments (0)
Author: DB
How many times have you had to deal with someone who was acting very poorly? Were you frustrated because they were being “impossible” or lashing out at you for seemingly no reason? Did they seem irrational or agitated for no good reason? Was their behavior out of place? An example from my life is this:
I have also worked as a professional property manager for years and people have often come to my office in a horrible mood and wanted to get in my face and throttle me, because anger and blame were the emotional resources that they were using at that moment, and I was there; I was the guy behind the desk in the office… I was the target. When a person came to my office in that un-empowered state, complaining that the kitchen faucet is dripping and they’re practically having a conniption because of it, I know that there’s something else weighing them down. Its not because the faucet is dripping… This sort of thing happens daily. And we often come across people in this state with our lives. It’s so easy to just react and to just throttle them because it seems that it will get us what we want. Perhaps we want for them to get out of our space and for the problem to go away, because it’s not fun to deal with this stuff. My personal experience in life has been that it has been my job to deal with people coming at me in a disempowered state, and often. I had no choice about dealing with them, because it was my job. And early on, I realized that I have choices: I can do it the hard way: with force (which may make them worse off and my stress level go through the roof), or I can do it the easy (and humane) way, where I get curious and do my best to understand and appreciate their world. When I do this, something magical happens: they calm down and stop pushing. The magic is “rapport”. It’s powerful! And it’s not really “magic”; its understanding human nature and using strategy to bring the best out of people. It sure feels like magic though…

Included with curiosity is “compassion”. Compassion is the virtue of empathy for the suffering of others. I think that it’s a very important virtue to always have in our consciousness. There is always a reason, when someone is being nasty or acting up. And I think that it is really important to use curiosity and compassion when we come across someone in this mindset, because we have the ability to empower, or to make their situation a whole lot worse. You never know what just happened to them, or what they may be processing in their life. Instead of judging them as "a pain in the butt", immoral or just plain "crazy", get curious and ask a question! Perhaps ask yourself a question like: “I wonder why s/he is acting like this?” Or “Is s/he just having a bad day?” And hold a place open in your heart for them to succeed at navigating out of that psychology to where they need to be. Believe in them! And ask them a curious question! Avoid making them wrong. They will sense (on some level) that you believe in them  and it will help them. Sometimes, just having someone else give that validation can be the tipping point in the situation (possibly even the great scheme of one’s life). And it may not show immediate results, but it will help them. In fact, there will probably be a lag. You never know what’s happened to someone in the past., but you can always give them something to make it easier to succeed now.

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