Avoiding to take out frustrations or a bad day on somebody else

A couple days ago I had an interesting conversation that sparked my thoughts for today’s Wednesday Wisdom post.

The story first ~

I was at a café in Pozzuoli (near Naples, Italy) getting an espresso and asking about how payment for the parking lot worked. The signs that explained the regulations were confusing as to what the costs were depending on the day and time. 

From this conversation, the bartenders told me about an encounter they had had during the week with a lady who had the same question, but who got upset about the parking payment system as they told her how it worked. 

As they were sharing what happened, a gentleman at the counter (who I later found out is the café’s owner) intervened saying how he would have told the lady that if she didn’t like it she could leave and that they served coffee, they had no control over how the parking payment system worked.  As he expressed this, I could tell he was quite upset. 

In response, I said that maybe the lady was having a bad day, at which he replied we could all be having a bad day that doesn’t mean anything.  His tone was still quite upset, so then I tried to find out if the lady had somehow offended the bartenders (his employees) and that’s why he was taking it so personally or maybe she had offended the café.

This wasn’t the case or I should say, what transpired was that he had a stressful living situation going on at home.  He blurted it out as he was somewhat venting about this lady and her tone.  His employees gave this look of shock, like oh no, what is he saying; why is he sharing all this information with customers. 

The moral of the story is that had he been there he would’ve gotten as “aggressive” in his tone as the lady’s tone with his staff.  Obviously, it was clear that like the lady, he too was frustrated for something that day.  Had the two met they would have fueled each other’s “fire” so to speak.  Luckily, he wasn’t there and his staff handled it by simply allowing the lady to vent and then go about her way.

Without focusing on this situation from a business and customer service angle, but from a communication standpoint, if you meet fire (an angry tone) without fire (so calmly), you not only allow the situation to avoid escalating; but you also avoid two angry people getting on each other’s case for no reason except for the fact that they both were having a really bad day.

Kindness and love or at least understanding without taking something personally (especially when it isn’t a direct attack on your person) will always benefit a situation for you, as well as the “aggressor” who is dealing with some kind of stressful situation.

People aren’t always upfront about what is going on in their life; after all, it’s personal.  But if you stay calm and lend an ear, that can be enough to help a person get rid of pent up emotions.  In this case, could have the lady avoided yelling at the staff about something they had no control over?  Yes, of course she could’ve; but she didn’t because she wasn’t aware of how she was taking out her frustrations on others.  Thanks to the staff being able to stay calm they didn’t make the situation worse.

Always try to see what kind of day you’re having and if you’re taking out your frustrations on somebody else.  Also keep in mind that if someone gets “aggressive” with you, it could be due to something that is going on in their life that puts them on edge and upsets them so much that they’ll find any way to let it out.

Try to be understanding of others and realize that they usually express frustration if they are upset for some reason (something that they’re dealing with).  If it gets too bad, just remove yourself from the situation altogether.  In the end, you getting frustrated with the other person doesn’t help them stop; and if anything, it gets you to take the same tone with them.

How do you handle people who speak to you out of frustration?


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