How To Deal With Frustrating People. Four Tips for Communicating With Patience
Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s new book “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)
"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself."
Saint Francis De Sales
Every day there are plenty of good reasons to be frustrated. Another long line. Telemarketers. A goal isn’t materializing “fast enough.” People don’t do what they’re supposed to. Rejection. Disappointment. How to deal with it all? You can drive yourself crazy, behave irritably, feel victimized, or try to force an outcome--all self-defeating reactions that alienate others and bring out the worst in them. Or, you can learn to transform frustration with patience.
As a psychiatrist, I help others see that patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power. It’s an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act. To many people, when you say, “Have patience,” it feels unreasonable and inhibiting, an unfair stalling of goals. In contrast, I’m presenting patience as a form of compassion, a way to regain your center in a world filled with frustration.
In “Emotonal Freedom”, I discuss how to transform frustration with patience. To tame frustration, begin by evaluating its present role in your life, how much it limits your capacity to be happy. The following quiz will let you know where you are now so you can grow freer by developing patience.
Frustration Quiz: How Frustrated Am I?
To determine your success at coping with this emotion, ask yourself:
- Am I often frustrated and irritable?
- Do I typically respond to frustration by snapping at or blaming others?
- Do I self-medicate letdowns with junk food, drugs or alcohol?
- Do my reactions hurt other people’s feelings?
- When the frustration has passed, do I usually feel misunderstood?
- During a hard day at work, do I tend to lose my cool?
- When I’m disappointed, do I often feel unworthy or like giving up?
Answering “yes” to 5-7 questions indicates an extremely high level of frustration. 3-5 “yeses” indicates a high level. 2 “yeses” indicates a moderate level. 1 “yes” indicates a low level. Zero “yeses” suggests you’re dealing successfully with this emotion.
Even if your frustrations are off the charts, patience is the cure. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to cultivate this invaluable skill. Life teaches patience if you let it.
4 Tips for Dealing With Frustrating People (from “Emotional Freedom”)
When someone frustrates you, always take a breath first before you react. Decide if you want to talk now or wait to calm down. If you’re highly reactive and upset, have the discussion later when you’re calmer Then you’ll be more persuasive and less threatening. At that time use this approach:
Tip #1. Focus on a specific issue--don’t escalate or mount a personal attack.
For instance, “I feel frustrated when you promise to do something but there isn’t follow-through.” No resorting to threats or insults. In an even, non-blaming tone, lead with how the behavior makes you feel rather than how you think the other person is wrong.
Tip #2. Listen non-defensively without reacting or interrupting.
It’s a sign of respect to hear a person’s point of view, even if you disagree. Avoid an aggressive tone or body language. Try not to squirm with discomfort or to judge.
Tip #3. Intuit the feelings behind the words.
When you can appreciate someone’s motivation, it’s easier to be patient. Try to sense if this person is frightened, insecure, up against a negative part of themselves they’ve never confronted. If so, realize this can be painful. See what change they’re open to.
Tip #4. Respond with clarity and compassion.
This attitude takes others off the defensive so they’re more comfortable admitting their part in causing frustration. Describe everything in terms of remedies to a specific task, rather then generalizing. State your needs. For instance, “I’d really appreciate you not shouting at me even if I disappoint you.” If the person is willing to try, show how pleased you are. Validate their efforts: “Thanks for not yelling at me. I really value your understanding.” See if the behavior improves. If not, you may have to minimize contact and/or expectations.
In communication, patience is a powerful emotional currency. As you’re more able to tolerate the discomfort of frustration and not blow it by acting out, your relationships will function on a higher level. In any interchange, always define what you’re after. Is it to resolve a specific frustrating behavior? To say “no” to participating in a dead-end pattern? Or is it to simply to convey your feelings without expectation of change? Even if the frustration is irresolvable, patience sets the right tone to treat others and yourself respectfully.
How To Deal With An Emotional Gusher
In my practice as a psychiatrist and personally, I’ve known many people who I called “the emotional gusher.” Gushers are experts at knowing their emotions and were born to share them. No one has to wonder where they’re at. Elated, bored, miserable, they tell you. What you see is what you get. They tend to be spontaneous, direct, real people-persons, trusted confidants. The gusher unloads stress by verbalizing it. I, for one, know how freeing this can be. I am grateful fo rmy treasured circle of friends who deserve trophies for listening to my fears, hopes, and quandaries over the years. However, some gushers get antsy when there’s no one to tell. Also, they may resist making independent decisions, trusting their intuition, or staying emotionally grounded without external input. I have a patient who’s an aide in a convalescent home, a true friend to the elderly. Though he finds helping others gratifying, the setting can be arduous: understaffing and budget cuts compromise the care he gives to the demented or physically disabled, a brutal neglect he had difficulty stomaching. Each night, he depended on being able to vent his stress to his wife, but could work himself into tremendous anxiety if she wasn’t around. My patient didn’t know how else to calm down and release stress until I taught him the techniques that follows. In addition to healthily venting, he learned to tap the power within to find inner peace.
In my book “Emotional Freedom” I describe the gusher as well as three other emotional types which include The Intellectual, The Empath, and the Rock. It’s important to know which type you are to be empowered emotionally. To determine if you’re a gusher, take the following quiz.
QUIZ: AM I A GUSHER?
- Is it easy for me to express my emotions?
- Do I get anxious if I keep my feelings in?
- When a problem arises, is my first impulse to pick up the phone?
- Do I need to take a poll before finalizing a decision?
- Are my friends often telling me “too much information?”
- Do I have difficulty sensing other people’s emotional boundaries?
If you answer “yes” to 1-3 of these questions, you possess some gusher tendencies. Responding “yes” to more than 3 suggests that this is your emotional type.
Recognizing you’re a gusher enables you to become a better communicator by learning to balance self-sufficiency with emotional expression. Sometimes gushers are so hungry to share that they turn people off. At a party, in the market, they’re all over you, compulsive emotional purgers. (The joke goes that such motor mouths qualify for the Twelve-Step Program On-and-on-and-on-and-on!) Although it’s liberating to voice feelings, a gusher must strike a balance between healthily emoting and drawing on the wisdom within. Consider the following profile summarizing a gusher’s traits.
The Gusher’s Upside
- You’re emotionally articulate.
- Negativity doesn’t fester in you if you express it to others.
- You have a supportive network of friends.
- You value intimate relationships, are a sensitive listener.
- You deal with hard issues and process them quickly.
The Gusher’s Downside.
- You’re a candidate for becoming a drama king or queen.
- You may turn friends into therapists.
- You seek external feedback before you consult your intuition for answers.
- Your need to share excessively may burn other people out.
- You haven’t fully embraced your own inner power or spiritual strengths.
Emotional Action Step. How Gushers Can Find Balance
Empower Yourself With Self-Sufficiency
Experiment with centering your feelings before soliciting support. Here’s how: First define the upset. Let’s say your boss has made mince meat out of your self-worth yet again. Second, ask yourself, “How does this make me feel? Seething? Demoralized? Plotting murder?” Excellent: Let yourself experience those emotions uncut, not acting them out, an essential stage before transformation can happen. Third, work with your feelings using these techniques:
- Set your intention to clear the emotion.
- Keep exhaling stress and relax your body.
- Use positive self-talk to love yourself back to center again. Inwardly say, “I did my best. I even deserve points for graciousness.” Affirm everything you did right; try to forgive where you might’ve fallen short, a loving inner dialogue that reinstates your power.
- Tune into intuition to find a solution. Spend a few quiet moments meditating to see what images, impressions, or ah-has! come to you about improving the situation.
As a gusher, if you skip these steps and go straight to the phone, you’ll cheat yourself out of the opportunity to build the emotional muscles necessary for more freedom and autonomy. Knowledge is power.The most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. If this is good, you’ll be capable of gratifying relationships with others.
About Judith Orloff
Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest national bestseller is The Power of Surrender: Let Go and Energize Your Relationships, Success, and Well-Being (Harmony; Reprint edition, September 22, 2015). Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional Freedom, Positive Energy, Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness. www.drjudithorloff.com
Visit Dr. Orloff's YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/judithorloffmd.