Can you remember the last confrontation you had with a stranger? Were you provoked by a road-rage bully? A rude, store clerk? An annoying customer? A friend of a friend’s Facebook comment? Someone who did not know you from Adam? However, that one-time, brief, encounter with the stranger was extremely upsetting to you!
Why are some people so hard to get along with?” My answer to that question is, “It does not matter.” People are complex and a person’s behavior can fluctuate from nice to grouchy in an hour or less.
I suggest we stop devoting our time and energy to trying to figure people out. We’ll leave that job to the psychotherapists. But we can take action to avoid internalizing rude behavior toward us. Today, our focus is protecting ourselves from rude strangers.
You may never see this road-rage bully again. But, undoubtedly, you will experience a difficult customer if you work in customer service. Whatever the case, how can you prevent a rude encounter with a stranger from ruining your day? You have to transform your thinking.
Put your safety first. First and foremost, are you in a safe environment? That means both physically and emotionally. If the answer is no, and you feel you could be harmed, you should get away as quickly as possible. You have nothing to prove. Choose to walk away. Then, when you are safe, get help from the proper authority (i.e. manager, law enforcement).
Work at Controlling your anger. If you are in a safe environment, it is ok to protect yourself emotionally. Choose to not react to another’s anger or rudeness. Try to respond calmly. Take deep breaths. Ask for someone else to assist you. Again, you can always choose to walk away.
Express your feelings. Someone may say to you, “Shake it off” or “That was nothing.” Ignore them. It mattered to you and your feelings matter. Write your thoughts in a journal or talk it over with someone who will hear your heart. Pray about it. But don’t shrug off the incident. It won’t just go away; it will only get buried inside of you.
Don’t swallow the poison. Forgive them. Why bother to forgive a minor altercation with a stranger? After all, you don’t even know their name! But remember, forgiving is for your benefit. By forgiving the person, you are spitting out the very poison he or she tried to feed you. As a result, you will experience the joy of emotional healing.