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A Mental Technique for Dealing with “Difficult” People

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When someone is being very obnoxious but non-violent – shouting in my face, being nasty, or simply being irrational – I pretend (to myself, in my thoughts) that they have a mental handicap.

“This individual person has a condition they may not be able to control, and they don’t know any better than to act the way they are now”

It’s possible that this is correct.

Perhaps they have lately experienced the loss of a loved one.

What are the chances? But I know I can’t be angry with someone who walks with a limp and slows me down, or with someone who has epilepsy and has an episode that inconveniences me, or with someone who has a support dog who keeps them safe.

We’re all individuals with unique strengths and challenges to overcome. Obstacles can sometimes get the best of us. What makes this circumstance unique?

So, for the time being, I just assume that this conduct is beyond their control, and my attitude shifts from defensive to supportive very instantly.

It’s amusing how many times I’ve used this to stay calm, and how frequently I’ve recognized that their actions were justifiable and less nonsensical than I had assumed.

Disclaimer: Nothing on this page is a personal axiom. It’s just a mental trick I use on myself to de-escalate situations and maintain my composure when it’s necessary. Everything was done with the best of intentions.

Working in the customer service industry I’ve discovered that the most enraged/loudest/rudest people are often frustrated at their core. They frequently don’t seem to grasp their own frustration, which irritates them, even more, when they can’t adequately express their sentiments to me. So I just let them yell, scream and say hurtful things without interfering. Simply wait for them to come to a complete halt before responding gently that I understand their dissatisfaction. It doesn’t always work, because some people are upset over things I can’t change, but it helps me get through it.

I got a call from a gentleman yelling at me because he had to wait to pull forward to our pickup window as we took the order of a man who had approached the window. An EMS driver came up to us on foot because his van wouldn’t fit in our drive-thru line. He had been waiting for quite some time, but we were quite busy. So we waved him over and received his order, then asked him to take a step back so the line could move along. The person who called to rage at me about it kept asking if I felt it was fair that he had to wait any longer. I just informed him that his food was not ready at the time we were taking the other man’s order, and that he would have to wait regardless. He became enraged, and he threatened to inform my boss and our corporate office. I told him it was his decision if he wanted to do it, and I even offered him the number to our corporate hotline. “I hope your day only gets better from here,” I said as I hung up the phone. He never referred to me as a corporate employee.

In this sense, keep ethos pathos logos in mind. Individuals differ in their personalities. They can be categorized in a variety of ways, but the most essential distinction is whether they are ethos, pathos, or logos. Awareness and working with people requires an understanding of how they learn, listen, and lock up.

Ethos is when a speaker or writer uses their authority to persuade others. They utilize words to persuade the audience of their good character, knowledge, or even professional skills. The audience is more likely to believe the argument delivered in this manner. Of course, in order to be effective, the speaker or writer does not have to possess these qualities; rather, they must appear to possess them.

The act of eliciting emotions in the audience or readers in order to persuade is known as pathos. The speaker or writer manipulates people’s emotions by using words to elicit empathy, desire, rage, joy, or almost any other emotion. To do so, they must have a thorough understanding of both the people they’re speaking with and the larger society backdrop.

The act of appealing to the logic of the audience or readers is known as logos. The speaker’s or writer’s efforts are concentrated on the rational validity of the offered argument. This is frequently accompanied by the use of facts, data, statistics, and other logical demonstrations. Logos, like ethos, does not have to be intellectually sound in order to be powerful, but it must appear to be./ source:

Julian Treasure demonstrates how to speak in such a way that people want to listen.

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