Let’s play a game called “What’s The Most Frustrating Thing In The Whole Dang World?”
My front runners (and there are many):
1. People who repeatedly kick the back of my airline seat
2. People who say inappropriate, disrespectful things (bonus Awful Points if this happens at a fancy event/meal that’s meant to be pleasant or celebratory)
3. When someone who has made different life choices tries to lecture me about mine
Are your hackles going up just reading through that list? No? Just me? Allow me a moment to step away from the computer and deep breathe my way through the memory of that time someone told me I’d “never meet a nice guy” if I kept traveling all the time.
Okay, I’m back.
While deep breathing can occasionally help us navigate The Most Frustrating Situations In The World, it won’t prevent them from happening. We’re bound to encounter perfectly nice humans who try our patience, circumstances beyond anyone’s control, and incredibly annoying people why are doing their best (even if that best doesn’t look the way we’d like).
Luckily, my friends Katie and Jina reminded me that we always (yes, always) have three options when dealing with a tough situation – whether that’s a traffic jam, a snarky coworker, or a less-than-amazing romantic partner.
3 ways to deal with annoying people
Is this easier said than done? Yes. Is it usually an option in some form? Also yes. You can quit the job, leave the cheating partner, move out of that apartment, or excuse yourself from the conversation. Of course, sometimes pesky things like “signed contracts” or “leases” make this harder, but if we’re really, truly honest with ourselves, leaving is usually an option.
I think this is particularly important to remember on dates, in friendships, or in social settings. Would it be awkward if you got up and left the restaurant when your date made a sexist comment? Sure, but it’s still an option.
Again, speaking up is sometimes awkward. But isn’t it better to feel a little awkward than feel disappointed in yourself?
Choose your attitude + stick it out
If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, it’s unlikely that you can leave and ‘saying something’ probably just consists of yelling at the radio dj or pounding you steering wheel. Or maybe you’re stuck in an important meeting and leaving or speaking up are simply not options. If this is the case, you can choose your attitude.
Before Katie and Jina told me this, it had never occurred to me that I could “choose my attitude.” In long meetings, my go-to attitude is “bored out of my gee dee mind” and my traffic jam attitude is “frustration bordering on anxiety.”
But what if I opened my emotional contacts list, found the number for ‘Patient” and then stuck with it? What if, before walking into that meeting, I thought “I’m choosing to feel interested and engaged for the next hour and a half.”
I imagine there would be fewer internal eye rolls and steering wheel punches. At least from me.
How do you deal with frustrating situations? Do you think most of them could be solved with one of these options? Which one do you use the most? I’m a leaver/opt-outer!