How to Deal with People who are Under Pressure

We all have to communicate with many people in one day. Some of those people will be calm and lovely to us, some of them will be under a lot of pressure and may be grumpy or unpleasant to deal with. This can affect your resilience, especially if you are dealing with them day in, day out.

How to Deal with People who are Under Pressure

We all have to communicate with many people in one day. Some of those people will be calm and lovely to us, some of them will be under a lot of pressure and may be grumpy or unpleasant to deal with. This can affect your resilience, especially if you are dealing with them day in, day out. This video will explain why they are like this, what's happening inside their brain, and how best you can protect your own mindset and resilience from their negative influence. By the end of this video you will be able to feel more empathy towards the perpetrators of any unkindness towards you, you will be able to arm yourself against it and enact a recovery strategy which will lessen the impact of the negativity these people create.

When people are under pressure they often don’t take the time to be nice to those around them. Or they are not consciously aware of how unpleasant they are being. What’s happening inside their head is not complex, nor is it difficult to understand, what’s happening inside their head is this: aaaaarrrrrghhh.

Instead of getting cross and grumpy with these people, we get a better result if we’re kind and caring. If we’re cross and grumpy we exacerbate the situation, adding to their pressure, and making them resent us for being unhelpful, or not understanding. I know you might think, ah but I’m just being a doormat, or they shouldn’t speak to me like that, or they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it, but none of those reactions in you is particularly helpful at the time. If any of these really is an issue - if you really believe you might be behaving like, or being treated like a doormat then it needs addressing, but probably not right at this moment. In this moment we need to do what we can to minimise the impact of the unpleasantness on us, unpleasantness that can affect our effectiveness for the rest of the day. Part of being resilient is the ability to be able to recover from someone else’s moods, from the impact someone else had on you in that 10 second interaction and make sure it doesn’t ruin the rest of your day. After all, if you have £86,400 in your bank account and some meanie stole £10, you wouldn’t throw the rest of it away, would you? But that’s how many seconds you have in a day, and people regularly throw the rest of it away just because someone sent them an unpleasant email, or was gruff when they spoke with them.

Every facet, every department of your mind, is to be programmed by you. And unless you assume your rightful responsibility, and begin to programme your own mind, the world will programme it for you.

This quote by Jack Kornfeld, emphasises the fact that we all must take charge of what’s happening in our own brain. It sounds odd, surely we’re in charge of what’s happening in our own brain, but sometimes we really don’t seem to be. I’m sure you all understand what I’m talking about when I say that the little voice inside your head quite often seems to be in charge of how you feel about yourself. You receive a slightly negative email and off it goes, berating you for how rubbish you are at your job, or how you should have done this or that, or how you have let someone down again. Or how people don’t treat you with respect, they don’t know how hard you work etc etc and your in full victim mode. And you just can’t shut it up, no matter how hard you try. Every time you are at the slightest bit of leisure up it pops again.

When people are unpleasant to us, whatever degree of unpleasantness, it generally doesn't serve us to be unpleasant back or to behave negatively towards ourselves and our work after they have left or the email has been read. We have this perverse desire to punish people who are unpleasant to us thinking bizarrely that it will make them pleasant next time or that it will make them realise that they are being unpleasant. What really happens if you are unpleasant back to them is that they think you're a grump and they think you're a misery. They don't immediately have some kind of self awareness epiphany because you have held up a mirror to them and revealed how they're behaving to themselves. Even incredibly self-aware people would struggle to immediately change a grumpy mood when faced with return grumpiness. So this is not a good strategy.

A good strategy is to begin with the end in mind. If we begin with the end in mind and think what do I want to get out of this interaction we stand a chance at coming out of the interaction in a positive frame of mind ourselves and a much greater chance of influencing the state of mind of the person with whom we are interacting. By sharing empathy and kindness we are more likely to break through the barrier of grumpy self interest in the other then we are by copying their mood.

I have changed many and interaction that I can think off by simply being kind. On one such occasion I was on a flight to Spain and the steward was being very grumpy and curt with all the passengers. As she got closer to me row by row I decided I was going to enact a begin with the end in mind strategy. I didn’t want to see and hear her grumpiness the whole flight so I wanted to change her mood. Luckily she had to stop for an extended pause right by me. When I caught her eye I smiled and said “how do you all maintain such patience with all of us demanding passengers? Do you get training in patience?”

She immediately softened and said to me that “no they didn't really get training in being patient but that they work together as a team so well that they were always supporting each other almost more than looking after the passengers in a way.” She laughed when she said that and I laughed too. When she served us next she was a delight and she continued to be lovely for the rest of the flight, towards us anyway. When she moved on my mother who was across the aisle from me touched my hand and said “well done Laura”. You see, when when someone is grumpy they affect more than you and if you can do something to improve their mood something to improve their day you improve the days of all of the people who have to interact with that person that day. You are providing a public service.

That's just one of many examples I can think of. When you see people and that obviously stressed and grumpy it's because they're having a bad day. If you're grumpy back to them you make their day worse, do you want to be that person? I don't know about you but I generally want to make people’s days better not worse. In order for that to be the case you need to be able to rise above the odd bit of unpleasantness and make sure that you have a positive impact on people. If you do this you are far less likely to encounter unpleasantness going forward because the person will remember that you were lovely to them when they were having a bad day and they will feel honour bound to treat you with more respect going forward. Also they're more likely to look forward to talking to you compared to all the other people who will be mirroring their grumpiness back to them.

So if someone dumps something on your desk with a grumpy “I need this for tonight”, you can smile kindly and ask, “Are you okay? You seem to be under a lot of pressure.” Or “Are you okay? You’re not your usual sunny self.” The kind smile is key here though. Anyone who is under pressure or just in a bad mood is on the alert for the snarky snide responses and ready to react explosively. The key is to have your warm smile get through their barricades and disarm them.

So this is strategy one, kill them with kindness, change their mood and carry out a public service. But if the grumpiness catches you unawares and you find yourself returning fire then what can you do to make sure that the rest of the day isn't affected by this negativity? Well there are several options. Option number one of strategy 2 is to pick up the phone and say to them I'm sorry that reaction wasn't very kind to you. I'm having a bit of a grumpy day and and you didn't get the best of me. Can we start again? No I know a lot of you are thinking why should I apologise when they started it? But that's what a five-year-old would say. Are you a five-year-old? No you're not. You are a proper grown-up with a proper job and everything. You need to be able to rise above what should and shouldn't happen and make sure that you are in charge of getting the best outcome from an interaction as possible. You have the choice to behave in many ways and I'm hoping that you would make the right choice by choosing to influence an interaction positively. If you sit there silently seething and justifying your grumpy response then you are part of the problem not any kind of solution.

The second option for a recovery strategy if the opportunity is not there to apologise and start again is to get out of your head and into your body. What I mean by this is that it's your little voice either berating you operating them that is affecting your effectiveness by continually replaying the negative interaction you've just had. In that case a great strategy is to get up and get away from your desk just for a minute or so and I will do some star jumps or some press ups or go for a quick bit of fresh air have a march around the car park or the garden. Doing something that gets you into your body rather than your mind Will break the endless cycle of your inner voice. In the same way listening to a happy song or a song that you want to dance to will have that effect. It's all about breaking the cycle of negativity before it becomes a spiral and affects your entire day or weekend or week.

Having a strategy and an acting it when necessary is resilience. It's not that people who you believe are resilient never feel negative demotivated upset by people being unpleasant to them, it's just that they have strategies that they enact that get them out of that negative mindset as quickly as possible. What they don't do is go and moan to anyone who will listen to them about how unpleasant someone has just been. That just spreads the negativity. Do you want to be someone who changes the world to be a better place or someone who spreads the negativity? I hope I know the answer to that already. So there you are there are some simple and easy techniques to deal with people who are being unpleasant to you. It might be ‘their fault’ they might have ‘started it’ but realistically you carrying on with it is not a good strategy for either of you, but certainly not a good strategy for you yourself. Be in charge of the programming of your own mind and don't allow others to program it for you.

© Quarterdeck Ltd • Registered Address: 24 Holborn Viaduct, London, England, EC1A 2BN • Company No. 09296060