Managing other people’s bad moods and difficult emotions well is an ability that can be practiced and strengthened.
While it’s not possible to fix another person’s emotional struggles, there are a handful of practical skills you can learn to help you be more genuinely supportive and helpful in the face of other people’s bad moods.
Giving advice to someone who’s emotionally overwhelmed is unhelpful at best, and usually counterproductive.
Thinking of someone's emotions as a puzzle puts us in a mindset of curiosity. And when we’re curious about another person’s emotion, it’s far easier to be validating, understanding, and empathetic, which is what most people experiencing strong emotion really want.
Instead of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, reverse empathy means trying to remember a time when you wore the same shoes.
The more you can relate yourself to what they’re going through, the better your odds of being genuinely helpful and supportive to the person next to you, not to mention being less reactive and emotional yourself.
The reality is that people struggling emotionally don’t want someone to fix their pain, they want to feel understood.
In order to let people feel understood, you could use a technique called reflective listening. Reflective listening means that when someone tells you something, you simply reflect back to them what they said, either literally or with your own slight spin on it.
Once we’re deep into a spiral of our own difficult emotion, it’s hard to have enough mental and emotional bandwidth to navigate both our own mood and that of someone else.
The solution is to get better at noticing and managing our own emotional responses early so that they don’t balloon out of control. And the best way I know of to do that is through a process called emotional validation.
Emotional validation simply means acknowledging our own emotions and reminding ourselves that they’re okay and reasonable even if uncomfortable.
So much unnecessary struggle, conflict and wasted energy comes from a fundamental misunderstanding about what’s really under our control.
When you stop expecting to be able to make someone feel better, you can start taking real steps to connect with them in a heartfelt way and be genuinely supportive.
Software engineer by 🌞 and sleepyhead by 🌑. Software architecture. Distributed systems. Personal productivity. Cats.
Having the ability to properly handle other people's bad mood is a skill that anyone should possess. However, it is not so easy to become skilled at this, for a wide variety of complicated reasons. In this article the author goes through some tips on how to handle other people's moods like a pro.
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