Question: I am a front line worker and I often get hit with angry people when what they are angry about has nothing to do with me. This gets me really angry because I end up getting yelled at for something I didn’t even do! It’s not fair and I don’t see why I have to be nice to them when they are obviously being disrespectful toward me.
first of all I’m sure that as a front line worker you do catch a lot of
the anger that is directed at the system, at the company or agency or
at other people. That really is unfair and I’m sorry you have to go
through that but it is what generally occurs nonetheless. (If you read previous posts, then you know I just used two diffusing anger
skills--agreeing and apologizing.)
When you stated that this kind of treatment “gets you really angry”, I get concerned because it sounds like you are saying that you have no control over your anger. No one can “make you angry” unless you allow it by giving away your power. You can choose to stay calm in the wake of another person’s anger.
My final comment pertains to whether or not you have to “nice” to someone who is yelling at you. I am a big fan of saying, “You don’t HAVE to do anything.” You must ask yourself what is the usefulness of being nice to this person and what might the consequences be if I’m not. Make a rational, instead of emotional, decision about how to handle the situation. If your job is important to you and you can find satisfaction in maintaining your cool in the face of someone else’s anger instead of feeling that you must match your consumer angry decibel for angry decibel, then using the de-escalation skills I have outlined previously might be your wisest course of action. Obviously, keeping any consumer or customer satisfied with your company’s service is an asset for the company. Word of mouth can make or break a company. This should explain the usefulness of being nice and attempting to work it out even if it wasn’t your fault.
However, I can’t make you do it the way I think is best. You always have the option of unloading on the angry person all your own anger and frustration. You may feel better in the moment but my guess is that when you are unemployed and thinking about the behavior you chose, you may realize the short-lived satisfaction wasn’t worth it, after all.
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