Communicating with people who are in distress is no fun. It can seem like a waste of energy and time. They are defensive, can’t think clearly, and definitely don’t want to hear your side of the story. At best, you accomplish nothing. At worst, you also get sucked into the distress and end up saying or doing something you’re not proud of.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With the right strategies, you can be a positive influence.
Six tips for staying sane when others are acting crazy
- Distress is usually a symptom of an unmet positive need. Deciphering and addressing this need removes the necessity for the distress. Battling the symptom is a losing fight.
- Distress thrives on myths about emotions. No-one can make anyone else feel good or bad. So don’t fall for invitations to the contrary.
- Distress is emotional. That’s OK, as long as you deal with the real emotions and don’t get tricked by he cover-up emotions.
- In distress, process trumps content. It’s rarely about what’s being said, almost always about how it’s being said. Avoid getting seduced into the content, and you’re halfway there.
- You didn’t cause their distress, even if you did something wrong: distress is caused by how we interpret and react to what happens, not the event itself.
- You are responsible for your behavior and what you do next.
Tune in to my series of six articles on how to respond positively to six common types of distress behavior.
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.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, 2017