Everyone gets frustrated. Whether you get frustrated once a day or once a year, however, it’s critical to remember to think with your head and not with your heart.
I have a tendency to get frustrated when I’m faced with mediocrity or unfairness; it’s simply in my nature. It also turns out, I’m the type of person who likes to make things right and fix the things that are broken.
For example, let’s say someone messes up. It doesn’t matter who, or for what reason, but the person has messed up and won’t take any responsibility for it. To make matters worse, the person has caused you some serious grief. Maybe the person is in charge of paying your invoices or running the technology for your big event. Or perhaps the person is your child’s babysitter or your caterer. And because of his or her mistake, things have gone horribly, terribly wrong. (At least, in your point of view!)
So what now? The deed is done. You didn’t get paid, the projector didn’t work, your kid suddenly has no hair, and your order didn’t include any vegetarian meals for your anti-meat gathering. You’re on the fast track to Losing It. You’ve already thrown a tantrum (either internally or externally) and complained to everyone in sight.
You know you can’t kill the person, either because he won’t take responsibility or because she is no longer in the room. Also, the paperwork for murder is FAR too much effort.
So you’ve decided to make your voice heard: make a phone call, write a letter, or rally a bunch of people who support you. Something bad has happened, and it needs to be fixed!
Before you begin, take a deep breath. No, really, calm down.
Yes, what happened is bad. And yes, you need to speak out about it. But no, you do not want to scream to the mountaintops when you are at your most emotional moment.
Why not? I’m most passionate when I’m fired up!
Exactly - when you’re most passionate, you can’t think clearly. Your mind is so completely occupied by that thing that happened, that you are unable to consider anything else.
Why would you consider anything else? SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED! WE MUST MAKE IT RIGHT!
Yes, but - have you considered what you’re going to say? Are you sure that screaming at the babysitter is the right thing to do? How can you be certain that it was middle management’s fault? Basically: will the person to whom you are speaking/writing/rallying against actually take the time to listen to you?
Think of it this way - if someone came up to you, in a rage, about how you’ve done them wrong and you need to fix it right this second or ELSE - how would you react? And be honest with yourself. Personally, I would either crumple up into a ball and start crying from the stress, or I would completely ignore the other person. “You’re crazy!” I’d say. “Calm down before you hurt yourself!”
So, do yourself a favor, yes? Next time you’re frustrated, take the high road by doing the following:
Calm down. Take a day or two. Watch a mindless movie. Bake a cake and then eat the whole thing. Take a nap!
Gather your thoughts. Write everything down. Make note of what happened, when, and in what order. Be absolutely clear, and feel free to ask anyone else who was involved for the full story.
Stick to facts, not emotions. “I ordered 25 hummus and roasted red pepper sandwiches and received 25 chicken salad sandwiches” is factual, to the point, and irrefutable. “You are an animal-killing sadist who hates all of God’s living creatures including humans” is… not.
Put it down in bullet points. They’re easier to read and have a more call-to-action feel than long paragraphs. Also, paragraphs are wordy, just like drawn-out emotions. Bullet points are emotion-less and will help you stick to the facts.
Have a clear action item in mind. Immediate payment of the forgotten invoice, a gift certificate to a salon, or even a formal, written apology if there’s nothing anyone can do. It’s one thing to complain, it’s another thing entirely to state the grievance and the expectation for compensation, monetary or otherwise.
Have someone else read your list before you send it out. It would be best if the person is somewhat separate from the situation, so that they’re even more clear-headed than you are.
Send it off and then follow up. If you really want something done, you’re going to have to make sure that they know you’re serious. A single email has a tendency to wind up in the trash, especially if the person reading it is embarrassed. Following up makes sure that everyone involved is aware of the situation.
No one likes to be on the bad side of a terrible situation. But even worse, no one wants to be ignored when they’re trying to make right in the world. Do everyone (including yourself) a favor and be as calm, cool, and collected as you can. Everything will work out a lot better than you expect!