WHAT ABOUT IRRATIONAL PEOPLE ?
TO BEGIN WITH...
Who are we talking about?
After all it makes a big difference.
If you are talking about me...I don't understand what you mean.
If we are talking about you...I can see things clearly and understand exactly what you mean.
Before we delve into this question here are some more of those Hummerdingers.
A VACUUM CLEANER IS A BROOM…WITH A STOMACH.
YOU CAN COMPLAIN BECAUSE IT'S RAINING OR...YOU CAN BE THANKFUL THAT THE GRASS IS GETTING WATERED FOR FREE.
HALF OF THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW…ARE BELOW AVERAGE.
YOU CAN'T BE REASONABLE…WITH AN UNREASONABLE PERSON.
Now what's this about irrational thinking?
WHAT ABOUT IRRATIONAL PEOPLE ?
By Lou Goldstein
I KNOW I CAN BE HARD TO GET ALONG WITH BUT DON’T WORRY…YOU’LL CHANGE
What is irrational thinking?
Just because someone does not agree with you does not mean they are being irrational.
WHEN WE ALL THINK ALIKE … THEN NO ONE WILL THINK VERY MUCH.
To begin with, an irrational belief is one that distorts reality. It is a misinterpretation of what is actually happening. It can create extreme emotions and block or hinder a person from reaching their goals.
Suffering from irrational thinking creates a mind set that will bring about illogical ways of evaluating not only the person themselves…but everyone around them.
We all have a set of general rules that usually govern how we react to life. These rules are usually subconscious and when something happens that triggers off a train of thought … what we consciously think….depends on the general rules we subconsciously apply.
For example ...let’s say that one of an irrational person’s general rule is that in order to negotiate successfully they must win every point.
The first point that they lose might result in a complete breakdown in the negotiation with irrational behavior on their part.
In our day to day lives... circumstances lead us to two levels of thinking. Those are what we presume to be and what we judge to be. We first “guess” what has happened, what is happening and what likely will happen.
Our presumptions are based on the facts we think exist. These facts may be true… or they may be what we believe to be true. Presumptions that are irrational will result in different forms of distortions of reality. It might be seeing things in black or white with no middle ground. Perfect versus useless, good or evil, right against wrong and basically “all or nothing” thinking.
An irrational person might also react in a manner that treats their beliefs about what will (or might) happen as though it was an actual reality….rather than a possibility. They might imagine what a person is thinking and then actually believe that it is true.
The general rules that irrational people might have, that govern the way they react to life, could be quite varied.
They might think that every problem should have an ideal solution and when one can’t be found it becomes unbearable to accept.
OR..they might think that things must be the way they want them to be and find it unacceptable if they are not…
OR….they might think that they must avoid any disapproval from anyone…
OR…they might think that events in their past are the cause of their problems and they
continue to influence their feelings and actions now.
There are many other types of general rules for irrational people but they all have the same distortions of reality.
You must remember that they all firmly entrenched in the minds of the irrational person. They are out of touch with reality and it is difficult to communicate realistically (but not impossible). When these beliefs are challenged by actual realistic facts or reasonable opinions…the irrational person feels disturbed emotionally and it is reflected in the way they react and behave.
OK…So how do we break down the barriers and create something positive with this negative situation?
Dealing with irrational people.
It is difficult to deal with someone who is irrational without the situation escalating. However, there are a number of things you can do to help temper the situation.
The goal is to put the brakes on and attempt to bring the discussion around to some form of reason.
You begin by staying calm and avoid, at all costs, arguing with the irrational person. If you become agitated and increase the volume of your voice, the irrational person will, in all probability, never be willing to see your point of view. They were not interested in your point of view in the first place and by arguing with them you only increase their intensity to push their point of view on you.
By being calm with an“I understand how you feel” soft tone of voice you at least can slow them down and slowly bring about a “hearing” and “listening” type of discussion.
Ask them to repeat and be specific about what their problem or anger is about. Repeat it back to them.
“So, what you are saying is that you believe you aren’t being treated fairly and you are angry. Is that right?” Then you can ask them to elaborate by giving you more details about why they feel that way.
Now you need to show them some empathy and let them know that you would also probably be upset... if you felt the same way they do. You can now ask them this most important question, “Now that I understand the problem, what can I do to help solve it?”
The reason for the importance of this question is that you might now actually initiate a discussion instead of an irrational discourse.
This doesn’t mean that you can solve their problem. It only means that you both know what the problem is ...and there might be a possibility of reaching out in a way to help solve it. In the ensuing discussion try to refer back to what the irrational person said would help solve the problem... and use their“own words” to, if not bring about a solution, lead to some sort of compromise discussion.
If all of your attempts fail…. and the irrational person continues being impossible, senseless and obstinate...
it might be time to think about discontinuing the discussion until a different time. Once you have at least reached the point of defining the problem and their idea of the solution you can, in a quiet, calm and unobtrusive manner suggest you come back to the discussion at some other time.
“You have brought up some important points but I need some time to give them some thought and get back to you.”
Determine who should contact who and when.
If it is a crisis that must be decided upon right away the discussion might be resumed in a short while. If it isn’t a crisis it could be the next day or even later. The important thing is to take a break and leave a hostile environment to hopefully resume the discussion in more of a calmer atmosphere.
ALWAYS FORGIVE YOUR ENEMIES… NOTHING ANNOYS THEM MORE
The “time out” might be a good idea, but it alone as a strategy willnot solve the problem. All you are doing is protecting yourself at this point from your own negative reactions. You need to begin formulating positive goals and strategies in coming back to the problem.
To fight and battle with the irrational ideas and behavior of the irrational person is only reinforcing their irrational position. Don’t try to make sense of it because they are probably too far gone to be logical and will not see, or even come close, to admitting their irrationality. If you think you can get them to understand your logic you are in for a world full of headaches. You must learn to expect their irrational behavior and then you will not be surprised.
You can’t expect them to understand your logical thoughts because they are mostly in denial and they think the problem is...YOU.
Don’t take this personally. The reality is this is general behavior on their part …and YOU …can be ANYONE.
Psychologically, some people have such low esteem of themselves that they don’t feel that they even deserve happiness. So they behave in a destructive manner and will try to bring you down to their level.
In order to combat this you need to lower your expectations no matter how difficult it might be. While you are suffering through this dilemma you must hold strong the belief that you will not only come out of this alive but even better for it.
During the time out.
During the “time out” assess your situation and determine the importance of where you are with the illogical person. If someone is threatening you with an action that could be harmful to you (bullying) and if you feel that it might not be resolved between the two of you, this might be the time to empower yourself legally. Become familiar with the legal system.
If the bullying occurs in email or correspondence, maintain a hard copy of the trail of emails and file them away for possible use in the future. Never threaten to go to war with someone unless you are ready to go to war. Make sure you have a legal plan ready if you need one.
It is important not to over react.
Don’t cloud your mind with your personal feelings and perceptions.
Don’t say or do something that you will later regret.
DO…stay calm and be proactive. Try to determine how you can stay in control without disrupting the irrational person. Think of it as an opportunity to learn something about yourself, the irrational person and your situation.
Take notes and write your thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper. Read your notes and add more thoughts as you think of them. By doing this you just might discover some hidden strengths and insights that might put you on a path that can help you think your way through it.
DO…go to your support system (your family, friends, associates, people you trust. Ask for their thoughts, feelings and opinion. Be completely truthful in explaining the situation and implore them to behonest with you and not just tell you what they think you want to hear.
Your support group is there to help you bring out your goals and what you hope to achieve. What you are seeking from them is to offer you some possible choices and options. You should ask them to be supportive but not to take sides. You want their opinions but you don’t want them to try to convince you what to do or how to do it. After assimilating everything the final decision is yours and yours alone to make.
DO...try to think about the irrational person while you are developing your plan of how to handle the situation. Usually this type of person is looking to fulfill a need they have through you in a destructive or even neurotic way. They can drive you nuts if you allow them to. It’s not that they are necessarily evil but they certainly have a destructive and negative effect. Instead of falling into their trap of reacting in a negative and annoyed manner…think of how you might turn this situation to your advantage. Maybe with clear thinking on your part you might even turn the situation into fulfilling a need you might have.
DO… develop a plan of what you hope to accomplish once the time out is over and you resume your discussion. Write down an outline of your plan and the talking points that you want to make.
DO…search your memory for past experiences you have had with this person (if any) and what the outcomes were. Remember how they acted initially and how they reacted all the way through the situation. Then when you reconnect with them, in a constructive way, remind them of a past experience and lead them to a positive outcome, by bringing up something where they were helpful in contributing to solve a problem. Write these thoughts and notes on a piece of paper.
OUT OF EACH LOSS AND DISASTER YOU CAN FIND SOMETHING THAT
BRINGS OUT AND FULFILLS A NEED OF YOURS…YOU JUST NEED TO STRIVE HARD TO FIND IT.
After the time out.
When you resume your discussion with the irrational person your goal initially is to lower the temperature from “irrational” … to…“angry”. An angry person is a lot easier to handle than an irrational person.
Your first remarks should be along the lines that you have been giving a lot of thought to “our” situation. If possible, try to compare this situation to one you may have had in the past. Then let them know how they were helpful in the resolution.
DON’T tell, or remind them, when they were wrong….point out when they were right.
DO….attempt to bring up your talking points in a way that the other person gets involved in trying to solve the problem with you rather than dictating how it “must” be dealt with.
Leading statements and questions could be very effective at this point.
Questions such as,
“ You will agree that we both benefit if we can solve this problem, don’t you?”
“ Let’s both of us present our ideas as to how to solve this problem, OK?”
“ Will you agree that we have the best chance of solving this problem by working together?”
“ We each have our own strengths and weaknesses… so let’s contribute our strengths, OK?”
You certainly are not going to be able to successfully accomplish what you want with an irrational person most of the time. All you can do is to keep your part of the conversation civil in a calm manner. The irrational person, for reasons already given, wants you to lose your cool.Don’t let that happen.
There is the story about a man being berated by an irrational person. He was being verbally abused and insulted in a loud and degrading manner. The man just sat there calmly. Finally, the irrational person asked the man why he did not respond to the insults and abuse. The man replied,“If someone offers you a gift, and you decline to accept it… to whom does the gift belong?”
If someone is irrational and abusive you can decline to accept “the gift.” Let that person keep their anger and insanity and don’t let it affect you. If the conversation is on the telephone simply do not respond at all while the irrational one is venting. Be completely quiet until they ask you a question.
Then in a calm way and soft voice simply ask if they want you to answer the question…and if they are finished yelling at you?
It is not easy to stay calm and it takes a strong mental force within yourself to do this.
If you have lowered the temperature from irrational to angry and you keep getting yelled at… there are some instances when it is all right to respond with some controlled shouting of your own. The strategy here is only to temporarily disarm the angry one and slowly bring them down. After yelling back it’s OK to apologize for losing your temper and asking if the discussion can proceed in a non yelling atmosphere.
You can only do what you can do.If everything fails by being diplomatic you may want to confront the person directly and put all the cards on the table. You may want to raise your standards of what you are willing to accept in your life and enforce them. Find out exactly where you stand with the other person. Explain why certain things are no longer tolerable with you and lay out in specific detail how you want to be treated and what you want to see happen.
If the other person refuses to accept your conditions at least you know where you stand and can make your decisions based on that knowledge.
See you next time,