I remember a few times I got yelled at as a little girl. Yelled at? more like screamed at. By responsible adults. Some were my teachers in kindergarten, some where family members. Only today I know that I didn’t do anything to really deserve it. They were just having a panic attack of their own, and couldn’t handle themselves. However, It scared the shit out of me. Ever since I’ve been afraid of getting yelled at. Of having someone getting upset because of me. I’ve been spending my life walking on eggshells, doing all that I can to please everybody hoping it will help me get by. How do I know all of this? My shrink told me so, and he is a pro.
Growing up, deciding I’m going to run a business, I soon realized (the hard way) that walking on eggshells plus trying to run a business, just can’t work.
At some point, someone is not going to feel super happy with you. You will make a mistake. You’ll have to break some ‘bad news’ to someone such as- A cost of your work that is above someone’s expectations. An extra revision that will cost more money to make. A line in your contract that is not right.
Some clients will respond dramatically. When I say dramatically I mean raising their voice, chancing the pitch of their tone, even if just a little.
“That is too expensive!”
“I can’t do that, you don’t understand, we barely have a budget, our situation is difficult, why can’t you move toward us a little bit?”
Whether I’m right or wrong, someone is feeling upset, and it’s because of me. All of the guilt and terror accumulated inside of me since childhood is rising above the surface. This client is making me feel as if I’m being unfair. All I’m interested in is taking their money, As if I’m trying to rob them. I’m acting greedy, evil and dishonest.
Well, that’s not true of course. But for some reason, every time someone confronted me, although I knew I was right, I felt so anxious. My heart was beating faster. I found myself validating in my head reasons for charging what I charge or the actions I choose over and over again. For days.
When we are facing a confrontation, our side of the ring contains all kind of feelings, from confidence and ease to mixtures of fear guilt and shame. When someone is throwing an adult tantrum at me all of these tend to shake all together. My ability to differentiate whether they are over-reacting or justifiably upset at me, will solely rely on my own confidence level and self awareness.
Here are valuable things I learned along the way to help me (and perhaps you) deal with confrontations- From light, to intense.
Most of the time you won’t really get yelled at
You are just assuming you will, before the confrontation even started. You are just too insecure and don’t feel you deserve what you want. So your dark side is putting a show in your head wearing the face of the person you are about to confront, yelling at you how wrong and bad you are. By the time you reach the actual situation with that person, you are all worked up, terrified by their fake version in your head as if you already fought them. May be they will react, but you might wrongly interpret it as aggression, and start to get defensive, or even worse, cave in.
Try to remember the situation so far, what everybody has actually done, and said. Try to separate between what’s going on in your head, and outside your head.
Stop feeling guilty for wanting what you feel you deserve
You are not a criminal. You are not trying to deceive or steal from anyone. You are providing services which suppose to make your client’s business better and therefore generate more revenues. It is more than acceptable to charge accordingly. While confronting a money negotiation, You have no reason to feel guilty for your side of things.
Someone’s dramatic reaction is not enough to consider something an actual drama
It is natural that your client might not understand the value of your work and therefore, will disagree with the last paragraph. Just because someone undervalues you, doesn’t mean that they are right. Therefore, their dramatic reaction to you presenting what you want, doesn’t need to get to you.
Mistakes are inevitable
The way to know if you are handling them right or avoiding responsibility is to think the situation the other way around. If you were the client, what would you expect ? Make sure you are doing all that you can do in the situation and that you are being fair. The stronger you believe in your actions, the less you will let a certain reaction get to you.
People who scream and flip out at other people on a daily basis are big babies. And bullies.
Even if they are wearing expensive suits and happen to be the boss. If someone raising their voice at you, or really screaming at you, there is a 0.01% you actually earned it with your behavior. It is probably their own way of dealing with their expectations not met. They have to throw that energy and frustration somewhere, and you happen to be the one that is standing there. Realize it is not about you, so you let it get pass you. You should also know that this behavior is not acceptable, and no employee, or service provider deserve to be treated that way. It is disrespectful and humiliating. Why? Because you’re an adult and you are not stupid. Telling you the same words in a reasonable tone should help you get the message just the same. Assuming that you need to get screamed at so you get a message is degrading. Don’t put up with that shit.
How to react to a surprisingly intense adult tantrum
Repeating “I’m sorry, you are right, I’m sorry” won’t make it better. You think you are making the yeller feel better and solving the problem. It’s not making them satisfied, nor solving the problem. It only makes them justify their disproportionate accusations at you, then making them feel even angrier at you and the situation. You are no-one’s punching bag. This is the time to make it stop. I found out after years working in telephone customer service (way way back at the time) that the most effective thing is letting a screaming individual know in a calmer tone – “I have heard what you said and I understand it, I have it all written down but I can’t continue the conversations like this.” End the conversation politely by telling them that you will take it from here later tomorrow, or a few hours from now. Give them an actual time when you are going to get back to them so it won’t seem as if you are flaking away. Now go take some time to breath and reassess the situation, so you can come up with the right response.
Those are the situations when the screaming and yelling are actually earned by your behavior.
-You made someone feel embarrassed or humiliated.
-For a few times in a row, your words didn’t meet your actions. In that case a person has a valid reason to not trust you, feel deceived, and therefore, really frustrated.
Think of a time when you let yourself really flip out at someone. I remember one time like this. That person has pushed me to edges I didn’t realize that exist. I felt really frustrated, and helpless. So helpless I felt that this person had nothing else left to take away from me. Then, I lashed out.
It takes a great deal of frustration to have someone reacting strongly. If they lash out at people on a daily basis, they are probably carrying a lot of frustration and vulnerability within themselves.
Think carefully about the situation, outside the argument. What was your part of it, and what was the other person’s part.
Take responsibility when needed
So you messed up. It happens. It is your time to take responsibility, and make it right. First thing first, apologize. Sometimes, what we really want from someone who wronged us is a recognition and empathy from their side. We know that we are not alone in this situation and the other side is taking responsibility. That’s what an apology is about. Offer an action you can take, or something reasonable to give to fix the situation if needed.
Confrontations are uncomfortable. Just the thought of them can scare us. I came to realize that when I was afraid of rocking the boat, I didn’t fear of what I’m about to lose, or what the other person might ‘do to me’. I was afraid of experiencing the pain of not being able to stand up for myself. Of failing myself. That’s vulnerability right there. But there are good news to that. It means that is in your power to completely shift yourself, and the huge beast screaming at you is nothing but your own reflection.
For this week’s lovely gif header I decided to go for something subtle and pleasant. May you all have a pleasant mentally balanced moth 🙂
Post by Sivan Sa’ar
I’m a freelance Videographer and motion designer. I love to tell stories and I have big dreams.
I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a comment or feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org