In distress some people get judgmental, opinionated and self-righteous. They crusade, pushing their beliefs on others, expecting people to agree with them in order to be OK. Nobody can seem to measure up to their impossible moral standards, and they get suspicious of anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Their tunnel-vision prevents them from recognizing that nobody wants to be around them. Instead of being respected for their integrity, they are feared because they are scary.
The back story
Behind the scenes, people who push their beliefs desperately need positive recognition for their dedicated work and convictions. When they don’t get it positively, they get it negatively by pushing their beliefs on everyone else. They are natural protectors and worry about fulfilling their responsibilities and duties to make sure everybody (including themselves) does the right thing and is worthy. Unfortunately, when they preach at everyone else, it only pushes people away. What they don’t realize is that overall, people aren’t immoral and depraved, even if their belief systems aren’t in the foreground. The crux of the issue is that everybody makes mistakes, nobody is perfect, and there are many acceptable ways to accomplish things in life. Denying this is a recipe for misery.
If this is you
- Accept that you are worthy, despite imperfections in your life. It’s scary, and it’s OK. Being afraid doesn’t make you weak.
- Affirm that it is noble and right for you to live according to your convictions.
- Focus on doing meaningful and purposeful work, and sharing your opinions only when you have permission to do so.
- Support and encourage others instead of expecting them to value the same things you value.
- Speak only for yourself, and when your share your opinions, acknowledge that your truth and THE truth aren’t the same thing.
- Be proactive to invite their opinions and judgments at times when you are open to feedback.
- Notice and affirm their convictions, even if you don’t agree, e.g. “I appreciate how strongly you believe in this.”
- Affirm how they live out their values. e.g. “I can tell you are really trying to role-model our company mission.”
- Be a listening ear if/when they disclose their insecurities about being worthy of the responsibilities in their life.
- Invite them to participate in activities where their strong convictions and opinions can add value.
This article is part two in a series on how to communicate with people in distress, starting with six tips for staying sane when others are acting crazy. Read all six articles to discover why people act the way they do in distress, and how you can communicate to make a positive difference.
This series is based on our work using the Process Communication Model, a research-tested framework for understanding and communicating with different personality types, in and out of distress.