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How to Handle Other People's Bad Moods Like a Pro

Strong emotions as a puzzle

Instead of viewing someone’s bad mood as a problem to be fixed, if your perspective slightly and try to see it as a puzzle.

When you shift from problem-thinking to puzzle-thinking, your mindset becomes driven by curiosity rather than morality. And it’s easier to be validating, understanding, and empathetic, which is what most people experiencing strong, painful emotions really need.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Handle Other People's Bad Moods Like a Pro

How to Handle Other People's Bad Moods Like a Pro

https://nickwignall.com/other-peoples-bad-moods/

nickwignall.com

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Key Ideas

Strong emotions as a puzzle

Instead of viewing someone’s bad mood as a problem to be fixed, if your perspective slightly and try to see it as a puzzle.

When you shift from problem-thinking to puzzle-thinking, your mindset becomes driven by curiosity rather than morality. And it’s easier to be validating, understanding, and empathetic, which is what most people experiencing strong, painful emotions really need.

Reverse empathy

Rather than putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, try to remember a time when you wore the same shoe.

Try to recall a time when you struggled in a similar way and with a similar set of difficult emotions and moods. It's a powerful way to appreciate someone else struggle.

Get out of the “Fix-it Mode”

Most people struggling emotionally don’t want someone to fix their pain, they went to feel understood.

Use Reflective listening. It 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.

Validate your own emotions

One of the hardest things about other people’s bad moods is the emotions they tend to stir up in us.

The trouble is, once we’re deep into a spiral of our own negative emotion, it’s hard to have enough mental and emotional bandwidth to navigate our own mood and that of someone else. This is why we often react to other people’s bad moods in a way that ultimately isn’t helpful to them, us, or the relationship.

Clarify your responsibility

You can’t directly control how someone feels, thus you’re not responsible for it.

A common pitfall people make when trying to deal effectively with other people’s bad moods is to overextend their responsibility to that person to include how they feel.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Anger and Aggression
  • Anger: An emotion felt when we believe we have been wronged.
  • Aggression: is an act of expression of the anger, by our words our actions. Aggression can be insults, sarcas...
Validation and Boundaries
  • We can try and validate the anger felt by an individual by making them know that their anger is maybe justified while putting firm but respectful boundaries on their aggression.
  • We then need to be clear about what type of aggression we are willing to tolerate, setting boundaries on the unacceptable.
  • We may have to put our foot down and be ready to leave the conversation or escalate the issue, without falling into the trap of guilt and emotion.
  • If possible, we need to restart the conversation when things have cooled down, and diffuse the issue in a calm way.
Avoiding Speculative Self-Talk

Unchecked self-talk can easily turn into self-delusion. The stories we create almost always make you look like the good guy and cannot be termed as objective.

  • The way to get out of this speculative self-delusion is to avoid any speculation about other people's anger, at least initially.
  • Make sure to note down the facts of the situation. This can make the story less according to your gut instinct, and more towards the objective reality.

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Two relationship complaints

The two worst things in a relationship are:

  • The thought of a partner leaving.  
  • The frustration of a partner not sharing their feelings.

If people are ill-e...

Offering vs obligated

Offering to share with your partner is intimate.  Being bullied into sharing is undercutting the very intimacy we think we're building.

Other people's emotions are theirs, not ours. Hearing them share their feelings is a privilege, not a right.

Correcting wrong views
  • “Sharing is caring!”. But care is about love and love is about respecting your partner's personal space.
  • “Yeah but if I don’t know what’s wrong, then how can I fix it?” Our partners are not our personal projects. Our relationship isn't a game of codependency.
  • “But I just want them to share!” Yet, we are not entitled to it.
  • "But why won’t they tell me?! Why is that so hard?” Because they don't want to. They may not be ready, or maybe nothing is wrong. You can't push it.

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See Relationships Like A Therapist

Relationships nowadays are regularly in the doldrums, with certain factors that tend to ruin them. These same factors can be ‘reverse-engineered’ to help us strengthen and improve these relations.

Validate, Not Solve

When someone talks about their problems, we are jumping in the problem-solving mode straight away. While dealing with people, this approach can backfire. A better approach is to just listen and validate their struggles, make them feel heard and understood.

Actions Have Underlying Functions

Many times, the external appearance of behaviour isn’t the full story and has underlying functions. It is just a symptom and not the problem.

Example: When a teenager is mad for no reason, it helps to understand the underlying problems they usually have in this age, and be compassionate.

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Dealing with Anger According to Context

Sometimes suppression is the only thing you can do to avoid an escalation. And sometimes reappraisal can cause you to tolerate bad situations.

But that said, telli...

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgive. Research indicates that forgiveness makes you less angry and more healthy.

The Harms Of Holding Anger

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Diffuse the fear of being rejected

... by acknowledging and expecting it can and will hurt.

To overcome the sting of rejection, stop trying to avoid feeling that stings. Stop pretending your unaffect...

Interrupting rumination

Make a contract with your partner, family, and friends allowing them to catch you in the throes of verbal diarrhea when you were unfairly treated.

Work out three or four different activities that will distract you and turn your attention to something productive. 

Regulate the number of rejection opportunities

 ... you expose yourself to.

We all have a different threshold of the amount of rejection we can handle. Wisely considering how much more you can handle is essential. 

Before you take another step forward, ask yourself if you have the right resources and support in place to catch you.

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Emotional clarity

It means that we have a good understanding of how we feel emotionally. 

Label your emotions

Use plain language. The more fluent you are with real emotional language, the more clearly you will be able to think about how you’re feeling.

Clarify your emotions

Get used to the idea of emotional complexity. When we feel upset, we're not feeling one single emotion. We are usually experiencing a blend of many emotions.

Training ourselves to look for and see this emotional complexity is key to better understanding ourselves when we’re upset and moving on in a healthy way.

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Narrative Habits

The way we talk to ourselves about the events in our lives is subject to the same laws of learning and habit formation that physical behaviors are.

That means we can learn to talk to o...

Events + Thoughts = Emotions

Our emotions are always mediated by some form of thinking. 

If our thoughts determine how we feel, that means how we habitually think will determine how we habitually feel.

Mind Reading

It happens when we assume we understand what other people are thinking without any real evidence.

It is a failure of imagination because we often only imagine and focus on the negative aspects.

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Never qualify

When preparing to tell someone what they did wrong, avoid using qualifications like "With all due respect," "No offense," or "Don't take this the wrong way" to soften crit...

Say what the problem is

... and if you must amplify your message, say where your data came from. Never try to simultaneously be a good cop and a bad cop. 

Make it clear that your goal is constructive change.

Ambiguity is your enemy
... when telling someone they're wrong.

Be concrete and don't sermonize, even if the person that's receiving your criticism knows she did something wrong.

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Handle difficult people

Difficult people defy logic. They create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.

90 % of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in ord...

Set limits

People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude.

Avoid this by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Ask complainers how they intend to fix the problem. They will either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

Rise above

Difficult people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational. 

Distance yourself from them emotionally and approach your interactions like they’re a science project (or you’re their shrink). You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos -- only the facts.

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What Emotional Fitness is

It's the idea that in order to lead healthy, happy emotional lives we need consistent habits and exercises that support our mental health and wellbeing.

The Benefits of Emotional Fitness
  • Decreased stress: you learn to manage your triggers.
  • Better communication in relationships: it helps you to tolerate and manage difficult emotions and then find more productive ways to work through difficulties.
  • Decreased anxiety: you train your mind to stop fearing its own emotional reactions.
  • You stick with your goals: you learn to deal with emotions like anxiety, shame, regret.
  • Increased self-awareness: you learn to build a better relationship with your emotions.
Get to know your emotions
  • Emotional clarity: Taking the time to deliberately reflect on our emotions, to observe and label them.
  • Emotional myth-busting: Eliminating myths and misconceptions floating around people’s minds about emotions. 
  • Emotional tolerance: Learning to resist short-term gratification and instead invest in long-term values.

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