Irrationality can happen in many circumstances.
Being a lawyer, I deal with people facing legal problems varying widely in nature. Legal problems by their very nature are problems laced with emotion. Every now and then, I will come across a person who can only see the world from their standpoint. But, as we know, there are usually two sides to every story.
Now, as the saying goes, “The customer is always right”. On certain occasions, however, it is quite acceptable for you to conclude that the customer’s level of “rightness” has to be dealt with delicately.
Below are 5 ways that I rationally deal with the inconsolably irrational client:
(This method isn’t exclusively for dealing with clients in a law firm, you can confidently apply the same steps when dealing with cranky Aunty Flo the next time she visits for the holidays.)
Are you certain that the person is really being irrational?
Funny question I know, because if it seems clear to you that the person is being irrational, then you must be right. Right? Not necessarily. Sometimes, when a person is not making immediate sense to us, we think it must be their issue. This is when you need to take a deep breath and an emotional step back to centre yourself. Often in these situations we are not truly listening to the person. We are drawing conclusions about what the person is trying to say to us from our own life experiences. So, at first listen carefully to what is being said and don’t race to draw hasty conclusions.
Consider the issue from the person’s perspective.
If you have listened carefully and you still can’t understand the point the person is trying to make, ask the person to pause momentarily. Explain that you are not quite comprehending the subject matter and that you would be grateful for them to help you to understand the issues. Have the person run you through their concerns in a calm manner. This takes the emotional energy away from the person’s own space and transfers it to a compassionate place where they realise they need to help you. Then figuratively step into the person’s shoes for a moment and review carefully what they are saying from their perspective.
Maintain your inner peace
This is a big one and is perhaps the most important point of all. You have progressed through steps one and two but made no advances on resolving the issue. You are firmly of the view that the person is completely irrational in their thinking. Again, breathe. The maintenance of deep breathing it is vital under stressful conditions. It is also paramount that you do not allow the person’s negative energy and demeanor penetrate your space and deplete your own energy. If you need to take a few moments away from the person, do it. Calmly excuse yourself momentarily and remove yourself from the adverse emotion in the situation until you find your inner sanctuary again.
From your sacred place of inner peace, you will now need to calmly stand your ground without displaying aggression of any nature and assert your position. This means you will need to speak calmly and clearly. If you are tempted, do not offer up sarcasm as a response, as this amounts to passive aggression. You may then conclude that the matter cannot be resolved. It is then wise to offer up the solution to, at the very least, see each other’s point of view and leave it there.
If you find that you have been upset by the person’s irrationality, you must offer them silent forgiveness. Forgiving them does not mean that you are agreeing with the way they have handled themselves. It is a gift to yourself to prevent you from dwelling on an irreconcilable problem, and will allow you the peace to move on. You deserve inner peace.
The above steps allow you to face unwanted behaviour with grace. You will leave the situation with your peace intact, so you can go and enjoy a nice cup of tea and get on with your day. You may never know but you may also have secretly taught the aggressor a new way to deal with irrational behaviour.