Last week I wrote about how a technical stuff up meant that I was without a mobile for most of the week. I spent most of the week hanging out in their store waiting for answers. These answers weren’t always what I wanted. My experience taught me a lot about patience and the importance of effective communication skills.I did worry that maybe my lack of reaction was another symptom of my depression and exhaustion. I was so used to the rage bubbling up and spilling over the top that this reaction was so foreign to me. It didn’t occur to me that maybe this was an OK reaction, that I didn’t always have to fight fire with with a raging inferno.
In therapy over the last 6 or so months I have been working on interpersonal effectiveness as part of DBT. In short, it’s learning how to positively interact with the people around us. These skills help to learn ways to effectively get our point across and get the things that we need, without trampling the needs and wants of the person we are talking to.
My interpersonal skills have not always been the best. I compartmentalise easily and often find it easier to completely cut contact with someone than to work out an issue. Of course there are always cases where cutting contact is the best course of action, but I was using it as my only course.
However my skills have slowly been improving. I am learning that it’s OK to have a disagreement with someone and still be friends with them. I am learning to preserve the relationship rather than destroy it. I am learning that there are times when fire needs to be fought with fire.
The situation with my mobile posed a lot of difficulties for me. The situation wasn’t changing, and I felt out of control. There wasn’t a thing that I could do and simply had to trust in the employees and the information that they were giving me. There were protocols in place that I didn’t understand or that seemed hell bent on making a situation worse.
During the many trips to the store it would have been easy for me to blow up, to release my frustration on the person that I was speaking to. However the work that I have done in therapy helped me to recognise that this was a time when keeping my cool was important. Yelling at an employee who couldn’t do more than they were already wouldn’t help my situation.
It’s human nature to meet aggression with aggression. Think about the last time that someone approached you angrily. What was your initial reaction? Did it make you want to yell back at them? It’s that reaction that was at the forefront of my mind when I was talking to the store employees.
I knew that I was much more likely to have a positive customer experience if I made my frustrations heard while still remaining calm. I knew that I was more likely to be taken seriously if I could interact with them in a calm way. I also realised that getting angry was OK but it was not OK to behave negatively while experiencing that anger.
At the end of the week I did fall in an exhausted heap. I cried with frustration on Friday night. I was emotionally spent. However I knew that I would have felt worse if I had let the rage spill over. I was glad that at the end of the week I could look at my actions and feel good about myself.
How are your interpersonal skills?
Have you had an experience recently where you surprised yourself with your reaction?
Linking up with Jess for IBOT!