Side #1: Doesn’t it make you angry or irritate you even just a bit when you meet up with someone but the person you’re meeting up with is really late (let’s make this a bit vague) and arrives as if his or her excuse is valid? Sometimes you feel that the excuse really is valid but because you’ve been made to wait so long that no agreement can seem to be made. This happens to me. I don’t want to be angry at the person sometimes but because I was made to wait, there is no point in hearing the explanation at that moment.
Side #2: Doesn’t it make you angry or irritate you even just a bit when you meet up with someone but you’re late because there was something uncontrollable that happened and the person you’re meeting up with just can’t understand your side? You feel that you’ve done your best but the person just won’t agree with you and is off still angry. Likewise, this happens to me too. Sometimes, I get angry too because I feel that the other person is unreasonably angry.
I’ve been in both situations but I just realized I never learned the right resolutions because I did not understand the difference between agreement and understanding, and intention and consequences. While one person is busy making the other one understand the intention that he or she did not mean to be late, the other has already felt the consequence, and the emotions already being felt is difficult to just sweep away like that. In this situation, both parties are on two different pages of a book and probably the best way to catch up with the other is to understand each other and deal with agreement later on when emotions have already subsided.
What does this mean? I guess when someone is angry, there is no use trying to explain to that person already feeling the pain of the consequence. The best way to probably deal with an angry person is to feel for him or her, to empathize and apologize for the consequence of waiting and to only explain the intention of not meaning to make him or her wait later on. An article I came across depicts a good scenario to explain this situation.
“I was running late. My wife Eleanor and I had agreed to meet at the restaurant at seven o’clock and it was already half past. I had a good excuse in the form of a client meeting that ran over and I wasted no time getting to the dinner as fast as possible.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I apologized and told her I didn’t mean to be late.
She answered: “You never mean to be late.” Uh oh, she was mad.
“Sorry,” I retorted, “but it was unavoidable.” I told her about the client meeting. Not only did my explanations not soothe her, they seemed to make things worse. That started to make me angry.
That dinner didn’t turn out to be our best.”
What should I have said to Eleanor?
“I see you’re angry. You’ve been sitting here for 30 minutes and that’s got to be frustrating. And it’s not the first time. Also, I can see how it seems like I think being with a client gives me permission to be late. I’m sorry you had to sit here waiting for so long.”
All of that is true. Your job is to acknowledge their reality — which is critical to maintaining the relationship. As Ken described it to me: “If someone’s reality, as they see it, is negated, what motivation do they have to stay in the relationship?”
This is why I always bring a book when I feel that I will be made to wait. Getting angry just causes stress so I prepare a lot of buffer to relieve myself of things I cannot control. On the other hand, I shall be mindful as well when I try to explain myself next time to an angry person.
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Photo Credit: Kasia Derwinska