The Strategist

Two exercises for handling inadequate people

04/16/2021 - 04:30

Communicating with an irrational person is a skill comparable in difficulty to competing in the Olympics, and you'll have a better chance of success if you start training early and build up some decent mental muscle.

Jason Bickley via flickr
Jason Bickley via flickr
Technique #1. Change the attitude.

When an irrational person attacks (with words), your first instinct is to hit back. But that won't work. So don't think of it as an attack. Change your attitude by stopping and saying to yourself: "This is a great opportunity to show self-control." This technique is very powerful because it changes your old script of action. You used to be a victim, but now suddenly you are one of those people that everyone wants to be like: focused, thinking clearly and not losing your cool under enemy fire.

Depriving you of your composure is one of the most effective techniques in the irrational man's arsenal, and your refusal to lose your balance is your best defence.

If you do it right, you will go from being that supporting character everyone makes fun of in the movies - hiding in a corner, crying, whining or screaming - to a real hero. You're the one who can deal with zombies, vampires or, in this case, crazies.

Technique #2.  Remember the mentors.

It's not easy to fight a madman face to face, but you can call on the help of those whom you consider to be your teachers. As soon as you feel the tension, think of your past mentors and supporters. Stop and take a deep breath. Imagine they are standing behind you and think about what they would say to you, what advice they would give. These people will give you an instant boost of wisdom and courage.

1. When an irrational person hits your vulnerabilities and you feel like you are losing control of the situation, interrupt for a second. If possible, say you need to go to the toilet or drink water to stop the interaction for a while. Or just be quiet for a few minutes.

2. Once you have paused the situation, think of two (or more) people who have loved and supported you. It makes absolutely no difference whether they are alive or not.

3. Think about what you are grateful to them for. Take a few minutes to feel their love for you. Then imagine what advice they would give in your current situation.

4. Mentally thank your mentors (if you are lucky and they are still alive, thank them later in person).

5. Go back to the conversation.

This works because it is impossible to feel gratitude and anger at the same time. When you are filled with gratitude, the anger disappears, allowing you to return to the conversation with a clearer and more positive attitude. Also, if your brain does not allow you to think independently and clearly, it is still capable of remembering sound advice from a mentor. And because the advice comes from someone you love and respect, you are more likely to follow it.

Based on “Talking to Crazy How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life” by Mark Goulston

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