You work in strata, you grow a thick skin. You have to. Let’s be honest, people often contact us only when things have gone wrong. They are angry at a situation before they even pick up the phone. And they express that anger. It’s not our fault, but we are the ones charged with fixing it. And so, their frustration streams its way down the telephone line or off the screen, with nowhere else to land but on you as the strata manager. It’s not an easy gig. Especially if you are empathetic, and working in a service sector, chances are, you are.
When those calls or emails come in I try to practice mindful compassion. It’s not always easy, to try and consider the perspective of someone who is angry, not at you, as such, but angry with you, simply for being part of that ‘strata enigma’ which doesn’t make sense to them, but does seem to be the cause for things going wrong.
It took me a long time. Years, in fact, to learn to feel compassion instead of hurt or anger when a client yelled at me. There were many tears as insults hit their mark. I remember sobbing in my car before being able to drive home after a meeting. I doubted myself as I took the misguided anger and frustration in, instead of listening actively but without attachment.
Eventually, I worked out;
- Feeling (& therefore sometimes crying) does not make you weak. It means you care. And caring about your job, about your sense of professionalism and doing right by your clients means you are an amazing strata manager (or whatever role you may hold).
- Emotions are not facts. But they are valid. They are not right or wrong. They just are. Being ok with this makes it easier to manage your own and those of others.
- The brain cannot process logic when upset. Once the amygdala is triggered, the frontal lobe takes a break, and logic goes with it. This means trying to have a logical conversation with someone who is overly emotional is in fact impossible. So don’t try. Just listen.
- Use positive responses in return to someone who is mad. If you agree with someone they cannot argue with you. They will calm down. Let them get it out, and then participate in a meaningful conversation.
- You do not have to put up with personal attacks or being sworn at. Let the person know you are willing to, and wanting to help, but only when they speak to you respectfully. End the conversation if you need to.
- Some people are just jerks. This is not on you.
- Sometimes, it still hurts.
- When it does hurt, I try to remember; emotions are not facts. Some people are jerks. I am good at my job. I care.
- And sometimes, I self-care in the best of ways. I drink a nice big glass of red wine in a deliciously warm bubble bath with my favourite Empowering Chicks candle burning and Taylor Swifts ‘Bad Blood’ playing in the background. Because I am not perfect. And that is totally ok. Also, karma.