The pandemic and recent political strife has strained the emotional welfare of even the most confident and optimistic among us. We all want to be confident and optimistic, yet many today are feeling anything but confident and optimistic.
The question is “How can we, who remain confident and optimistic, help those who aren’t?” In order to answer this question we need to explore various aspects of human nature. Let’s begin with openness.
I know that my effectiveness, in any role, is directly related to the openness of the person with whom I’m dealing. I learned a long time ago that, if a person isn’t interested in changing, my messages have no value to him. That’s true for all of us.
Over the years I’ve been given suggestions that didn’t fit my interests, style or nature. While there was validity to the advice I was given, I had no intention of utilizing it because it didn’t align with my nature, style or interests.
Why is it important to know this? Much of our frustration comes from trying to convince people who don’t want to be convinced. When we persist in our efforts to convince those who don’t want to be convinced, we anger them and, often, deplete our own confidence and optimism.
The thing you can do is to continue to live with joy, confidence and optimism. At some point, during a period of exhaustion (when their emotional plight weighs heavily upon them), they’ll ask you how you can remain so optimistic and so confident in the face of all that is going on. That’s the signal that they are open, they’re ready to hear, and act upon, what you have to say. They may not act immediately, but they are taking the first step toward becoming confident and optimistic.
Emotion is another aspect of human nature we need to consider if we want to help others.
When people are in a highly-emotional state, facts and logic won’t change their minds. This is something that mental health and neuroscience professionals have known for some time.
That’s why, when dealing with someone who is in a highly-emotional state, the worst thing you can do is to press harder to convince them to change their thinking. I remember a high school student who asked me how to deal with his mother who, he said, “yelled all the time.” I told him that her yelling was simply how she vented her frustration and that he should allow her to vent, then begin to discuss the issue.
The following day he said to me “Wow, that really works! I lost my keys yesterday and my mom started yelling. I let her finish, then said ‘Mom, don’t worry, I’ll find them’. That was the end of the discussion, she was fine after that.”
One of the things to remember is that highly-emotional states, whether euphoric or dismal, are draining. It isn’t until emotions exhaust a person that they’re willing to listen. The key is to be patient and allow the person’s emotions to exhaust them. Better yet, allow your patience to extend until they ask for your assistance. Being exhausted and being open aren’t necessarily coincident. There may be a time interval between their exhaustion and their openness.
In order to help others become more confident and optimistic you must maintain your own. You must live the message. It must be obvious to others that you are able to handle adversity with a smile and a view to a brighter future. Absent these behaviors, others will not seek your counsel when they’re in pain. Nor will they believe what you say when your behaviors aren’t congruent with your words.
Maintain your confidence and optimism by avoiding discussions of sensitive topics with those who are not open to hearing alternatives. They’ll drain your energy and, possibly, diminish your confidence and optimism.
Finally, when dealing with emotionally-charged individuals, allow them to vent their frustration verbally (violent actions are not to be tolerated). Allow these folks to exhaust themselves. It isn’t until they’re exhausted that they’ll be open to a discussion.
If possible, wait until they seek your counsel before sharing your reasons for confidence and optimism. Express your confidence and optimism by relating them to instances where they’ve exhibited these traits. When they realize that they have previously been confident and optimistic, it’s easier for the to return to that state.
For our kids
Help your kids become more confident and optimistic by helping them understand that, absent openness, there’s little they can do to help another. Let them know that despite their desire to help, they can actually delay the benefits they intend by approaching the person too early.
Also teach them that the key to dealing with highly-emotional people is to allow these folks to exhaust themselves, to relieve themselves of the emotions they’re experiencing. Then, and only then, will they have any hope of helping the person out of the dilemma they’re facing.
Finally, and most importantly, live this message. Kids, like the rest of us, only trust behaviors they observe, rarely what they’re being told.
Feel free to share this blog with those whom you feel would benefit from this message. It’s an easy way to say “I love you. I’m thinking of you.”
I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.
If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).
If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).
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