Written by Ron Tustin Thursday, 05 January 2012 12:37
Being with angry people
I recently spent some time with an old friend who had become quite angry. I found that seeing him in a different light challenged me a lot and in this article I talk about how we can effectively deal with angry people.
Some days, it seems anger surrounds us at home, in the workplace, on the roadways, and at sports events. The easiest thing we can do is to respond in the same way and get caught up in an escalating spiral of angry exchanges which usually upsets everyone and does nothing to improve communication or solve the problem at hand. As an alternative, we can try some of the following ideas whether it is with (1) explosive people who might be dangerous or (2) people who are chronically angry toward you.
DEALING WITH EXPLOSIVE PEOPLE WHO CONFRONT YOU:
1. Do not respond in kind. Hostility often leads to more hostility.
We usually want to defuse the situation so we may try responding with a non-hostile message. The classic example of this is in when simple inconsiderate driving or even aggressive driving suddenly escalates into road rage due to two drivers ratcheting up hostility in response to the other's hostile acts, words, or gestures. When I started responding angrily to my friend, I was contributing to the outcome by my decision to return hostility.
2. Take their upset seriously and validate their feelings.
Listen to what they have to say and hear them out; ignoring them or minimizing their feelings will tend to escalate their anger further.
3. Respond to the feelings they are having - not the content of what they are saying.
Try to hear and respond to the underlying hurt or pain the person is experiencing underneath the angry words. Use statements such as "I can appreciate why you feel that way," "Many people feel the way you do."
4. Allow angry people to physically escape the situation.
Don't block their way or prevent their exit, and don't insist on solving the problem "now" when the other person is in an agitated state.
5. Don't defend yourself by attacking back at them or their character.
Defensiveness often escalates anger in the other person and, in fact, is one of the predictors of divorce, according to recent marital research. There is a time to present your side, but not when your partner is unable to hear it due to his or her anger.
6. Don't try to solve an emotional issue with logical arguments.
Trying to diffuse an angry person with overwhelming evidence of their thinking errors or mistakes in logic, or facts to the contrary, or reasons for why they shouldn't feel the way they do, or why they should feel differently - usually makes the situation worse.
DEALING WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE CHRONICALLY ANGRY TOWARD YOU.
1. Consider changing your behaviour that triggers their anger.
Sometimes the most practical thing to do is to change whatever it is that triggers anger in people close to you. Not that we should go overboard on this, but simple changes can do a lot, especially if they don't lower your self-esteem or don't "cost" you a lot to change.
2. Think about terminating the relationship.
The truth is, some relationships we get involved in are so "toxic" that it is not helpful to continue in them or to try and repair them. At times, we need to protect ourselves from people we know who create an atmosphere that is not good for our well-being.
3. Limit the time spent with them.
But If ending the relationship is too drastic a step, consider simply limiting the time we spend with such people. Decide we can put up with the person several times a year at the family Christmas party, for instance, or we will be tolerant toward an angry ex-spouse once a week for the sake of our children.
4. Ask them directly why they often appear to be angry toward you.
Sometimes the quickest way to find out why someone appears constantly angry is to simply ask them. They may not even realize they were communicating angrily toward you, so an inquiry may open up a great opportunity for dialogue.
5. Communicate clearly about how their negativity affects you.
Honestly letting people know how their behaviour is affecting you emotionally is often an "eye-opener" to the other person. Start with "I feel" statements rather than "you" or "you should" statements.
6. Adjust our expectations of them.
People may be chronically angry toward us because we communicate that they are disappointing us in some way and see us as overly critical. If we change the expectations we have to them, that may result in them being less angry toward us!
Written by Ron Tustin Thursday, 05 January 2012 12:32
Creating a social network in any city
"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose." Tennessee Williams
When ever we talk about social networks now, it means one thing to certain people- putting your head into a phone or computer and getting on Twitter or Facebook. I personally have created a Twitter/Facebook-free zone around me. It may be a little ostrich-like but apart from the obvious privacy issues I still fail to see its relevance in relation to the amount of time you may need to put in to it.
However one of the big secrets to success and happiness in life (not to mention good health) is having a web of friends and associates. So this month I will talk particularly to those of you who have moved to a new community and wish to get to know people face to face within a short time?
It certainly helps to have an outgoing personality. However, the following ideas may help to get better results for you. This works especially well if you've just arrived in a brand-new city, knowing hardly anyone at all. If you've lived someplace for a little while, you just have to pretend you're a newcomer and implement the same steps.
Have an attitude of openness and interest: First, it's important to internalize the key determinant of your social success: an attitude of openness and interest. If you show genuine interest in the people you meet, they tend to reciprocate by showing genuine interest in you. Also, an attitude of openness generally works better than one of "I wonder what I can get out of this person."
Accept all invitations: If someone has opened their door and heart to you and has requested your company, honour that. The event could be anything - a birthday party, a dinner, a professional networking event, a gallery opening or a pay event. Show up. Remember that there are only two kinds of people: friends and future friends. And if you said you would show up, be there, even if you don't fully feel like it at the last minute. Of course, there will be times when you have conflicts and can't attend the event, and that's acceptable. Decline politely, express your regrets, and do your best to attend the next event.
Honour all contacts: Now that you've shown up, you'll speak to a variety of people. Some may not initially catch your attention. That's okay--honour the contact anyway. If you speak to someone, no matter how briefly, exchange contact information with that person. Each friend you make increases your potential for meeting even more people, so be inclusive.
Follow up on all contacts: Most of us wait until there's a good reason to contact person they have just met. And 99 percent of the time, that means we will never contact that person again. But in your case send a note to all the people that you meet within 48 hours of meeting them. I prefer to do it the day after, just because that way I know I'm not missing anyone, and I'll remember them well. If you wait a week, you will usually forget entirely, and after that they may not remember who you are. So do it the next day. It doesn't have to be anything fancy--just say it was nice meeting them, mention something about your conversation, and close by saying that you look forward to keeping in touch.
Give back: Now that you have accepted all these invitations, it's now your turn to issue some of your own. The best way to do that is to host an event. The golden rule is to invite about 4 times as many people as you hope to turn up. Send out a witty invitation- it may be a dinner, a party, organising a group to attend a concert or other event. It should be a reflection of who you are, so have a compelling theme. An interesting aspect of human psychology is that the more effort people have to put in to attend your event, the more committed they will be to attending, and the more they will enjoy it once they show up.
So be open, show up, meet, follow up, and give back. Like everything else in life, the more you participate and give, the more you can expect to meet new people and expand your social circle.
It's not what you know but who you know that makes the difference.
Written by Ron Tustin Thursday, 05 January 2012 12:25
Alone for the holidays
For a wide variety of reasons, many of us find ourselves alone for the holidays. Although the common message about Christmas and the summer holidays is about spending times with families and friends, there are many of us who will either choose or end up being on their own. Some people who are constantly surrounded by people may find it blissful to be unusually alone. For others though, this time can be an especially lonely and trying time. So this month I will talk about ways we can make this time less lonely.
Firstly it is so important to do some thinking about Christmas and the rest of the time you will be on holiday and how you will spend it. Some of the suggestions below will need some thought and prior planning.
Ways to spend time alone
1. Adjusting our expectations. Although all the marketing about Christmas focuses on traditional families, a quarter of New Zealand's population now live alone and only a little over half live in households as couples. But apart from Christmas as seen as being for families there are many other categories of expectations about the season being just right that it brings up all sorts of issues relating to getting alone with family members, stress, eating disorders, alcohol misuse, self-esteem- the list goes on. There's this idea that it's supposed to be perfect, and if it's not, the person asks, 'What's wrong with me?' So you may begin to being on your own as a good option.
2. Pick up the phone. Call friends and ask to be included in whatever they're doing. Offer to take food or see how you can contribute to the gathering.
3. You are not alone in being alone. Is there a lonely person in your neighbourhood who might welcome some company - a refugee, an older or disabled person or a youngster who is alone? It often takes courage to approach people who are both neighbours and relative strangers, but such efforts can give life a deeper meaning.
4. Be proactive. Create an "alternative family" made up of people whose company you enjoy. Remember that you are not alone in being alone at this time. Get together with others and have some fun. One of my more memorable Christmases was a multi-course meal with a group who for different reasons found themselves on their own and moved around the table so that met everyone during the course of the meal.
5. Plan an outing. Go on a long walk, bike ride, or to a park. Enjoy the outing with others or by yourself.
6. Look after yourself. Christmas Day may be one of your very few days off work. Soak in a bath, sleep in - all day or find some other special way to luxuriate. Do whatever you enjoy doing.
7. Reach out. If, for some reason, you can't be with family or loved ones, send them letters or e-mails or call them - in other words, reach out to them.
8. Help others. Volunteering at The City Mission or other agencies will help you feel connected. If possible, participate in activities at other times of the year, not just on Christmas Day though. When you volunteer, you can expect two big rewards. First, you'll be surrounded by people - by volunteers and staff who share your spirit of giving and by those you are helping. Never will someone be more grateful for a gift. Second, helping others in need is fulfilling. I know from my own experience that there's nothing like this to pull you back to realizing how well you are.
9. Travel. If you are able to, get away for a few days. Travel agents often have special tours at this time of the year to cater for your needs.
10. Take on a home project. Fix up the spare room, tidy up and replant the garden, or finish some other of those jobs around the house that you have put off all year.
11. Rediscover an old creative talent. If you have been promising yourself to learn that musical instrument or start painting or pottery again, today is the day to start.
You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with.
Written by Ron Tustin Wednesday, 29 September 2010 05:01
"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?" Albert Camus.When we dream about what a happy retirement may be, we tend to focus on having good health, enough money to live comfortably on and enjoying ourselves. But the studies that have been done into what may bring lasting happiness point to another critical factor we need - engagement.
Some of the characteristics of being engaged are:
• Having high levels of concentration and focus
• Feeling invigorated afterwards
• Losing track of time
• Using your strengths
Written by Ron Tustin Wednesday, 29 September 2010 04:46
If we earnestly wish to achieve our goals and stay focused on them, then it is very important to surround ourselves with the right people. We become the average of the 4-5 people we spend most of our time with.
"The secret of attraction is to love yourself. Attractive people judge neither themselves nor others. They are open to gestures of love. They think about love, and express their love in every action. They know that love is not a mere sentiment, but the ultimate truth at the heart of the universe." Deepak Chopra