Dr Judith Orloff's Blog

4 Tips to Cope with Annoying People

Judith Orloff - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adapted from Dr. Judith Orloff’s new book “Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life” (Three Rivers Press, 2011)

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself."
...Saint Francis De Sales

Every day there are plenty of good reasons to be frustrated. Another long line. Telemarketers. A goal isn’t materializing “fast enough.” People don’t do what they’re supposed to. Rejection. Disappointment. How to deal with it all? You can drive yourself crazy, behave irritably, feel victimized, or try to force an outcome--all self-defeating reactions that alienate others and bring out the worst in them. Or, you can learn to transform frustration with patience.

As a psychiatrist, I help others see that patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power. It’s an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act. To many people, when you say, “Have patience,” it feels unreasonable and inhibiting, an unfair stalling of goals. In contrast, I’m presenting patience as a form of compassion, a way to regain your center in a world filled with frustration.

In “Emotional Freedom”, I discuss how to transform frustration with patience. To tame frustration, begin by evaluating its present role in your life, how much it limits your capacity to be happy. The following quiz will let you know where you are now so you can grow freer by developing patience.

Frustration Quiz: How Frustrated Am I?

To determine your success at coping with this emotion, ask yourself:

  • Am I often frustrated and irritable?
  • Do I typically respond to frustration by snapping at or blaming others?
  • Do I self-medicate letdowns with junk food, drugs or alcohol?
  • Do my reactions hurt other people’s feelings?
  • When the frustration has passed, do I usually feel misunderstood?
  • During a hard day at work, do I tend to lose my cool?
  • When I’m disappointed, do I often feel unworthy or like giving up?
  • Answering “yes” to 5-7 questions indicates an extremely high level of frustration. 3-5 “yeses” indicates a high level. 2 “yeses” indicates a moderate level. 1 “yes” indicates a low level. Zero “yeses” suggests you’re dealing successfully with this emotion.

    Even if your frustrations are off the charts, patience is the cure. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to cultivate this invaluable skill. Life teaches patience if you let it.

    4 Tips for Dealing With Frustrating People (from “Emotional Freedom”)

    When someone frustrates you, always take a breath first before you react. Decide if you want to talk now or wait to calm down. If you’re highly reactive and upset, have the discussion later when you’re calmer Then you’ll be more persuasive and less threatening. At that time use this approach:

    Tip #1. Focus on a specific issue--don’t escalate or mount a personal attack.
    For instance, “I feel frustrated when you promise to do something but there isn’t follow-through.” No resorting to threats or insults. In an even, non-blaming tone, lead with how the behavior makes you feel rather than how you think the other person is wrong.

    Tip #2. Listen non-defensively without reacting or interrupting.
    It’s a sign of respect to hear a person’s point of view, even if you disagree. Avoid an aggressive tone or body language. Try not to squirm with discomfort or to judge.

    Tip #3. Intuit the feelings behind the words.
    When you can appreciate someone’s motivation, it’s easier to be patient. Try to sense if this person is frightened, insecure, up against a negative part of themselves they’ve never confronted. If so, realize this can be painful. See what change they’re open to.

    Tip #4. Respond with clarity and compassion.
    This attitude takes others off the defensive so they’re more comfortable admitting their part in causing frustration. Describe everything in terms of remedies to a specific task, rather then generalizing. State your needs. For instance, “I’d really appreciate you not shouting at me even if I disappoint you.” If the person is willing to try, show how pleased you are. Validate their efforts: “Thanks for not yelling at me. I really value your understanding.” See if the behavior improves. If not, you may have to minimize contact and/or expectations.

    In communication, patience is a powerful emotional currency. As you’re more able to tolerate the discomfort of frustration and not blow it by acting out, your relationships will function on a higher level. In any interchange, always define what you’re after. Is it to resolve a specific frustrating behavior? To say “no” to participating in a dead-end pattern? Or is it to simply to convey your feelings without expectation of change? Even if the frustration is irresolvable, patience sets the right tone to treat others and yourself respectfully.

    Click on link to watch a video clip on how to Transform Frustration with Patience


    Judith Orloff, MD is author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, upon which her articles are based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. She is a New York Times best-selling author of Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive Healing. Connect with Judith on  Facebook and  Twitter. To learn more about empaths and her free empath support newsletter as well as Dr. Orloff's books and workshop schedule, visit her website.

    Anita Marie Colbert commented on 15-Mar-2012 12:43 PM
    Dear Dr. Orloff. I am a sixty one year "young" woman who just wanted to take a few minutes of my day to let you know how much I appreciate your work. I have written a few articles on being Highly Sensitive and also a Black woman, because my heightened
    sense of intuition took a lot of battering for quite some time, and I had to speak about it. If you are interested, just Google my name, Anita Marie Colbert, or look up Highly Sensitive, and you will find some of my articles. I plan to begin writing again
    this spring/summer. I took a hiatus, needed to set some facts straight in my head, and I am ready to once again share my thoughts. In any case, thank you so much for bringing the HSP temperament to the forefront. Dr. Elaine Aron was my first taste of literally
    understanding why I felt the way I did - and you have elegantly allowed me to feel "special" and not afflicted any longer (smile...) Thank you so much - I am so glad that you are on the planet at this time with me. Anita Marie Colbert
    Bob commented on 15-Mar-2012 01:01 PM
    Hi Judith I have really enjoyed your work and I have voted for you more times than a Dead Republican in a Deep South Primary :) Here is an interesting piece of what goes on for me with a friend. I am not asking for advice but to give you my experience
    with some techniques you mentioned. You are welcome to respond however, if you choose, I would love to hear from you. My edge right now is a formerly dear friend who I have not been able to get along with for a number of years. I feel you should know that
    we tried dating a few years back and our conflicts definitely after that. There is alot I could share but I am going to keep it to one thing that jumped out at me. "Lee" not her real name but pretty close, uses the thanks for not yelling at me technique. She
    uses the thanks for not_________ a lot. I am at a loss how to handle this because I do not feel that I have yelled. It feels like a manipulation of a technique that she likely learned in her weekly group. And it's not just yelling. She states this for any
    number of things. If you are following me, the situation becomes "Thanks for not yelling." Me; "I didn't think I was yelling but thanks for saying that..." Lee "OMG everybody knows you yell." Me "I don't think that's true, but you are welcome to your opinion."
    It goes on and on until I excuse myself and then she is...YELLING! ;) that I am oversensitive etc. The worst part (still with me Doc?) by far is that if I don't respond to her "Thank you for..." or I say "your welcome, she will make public proclamations at
    a party or some other gathering of "I'm so proud of Bob I complimented him on not yelling and he totally accepted it." This feels like an absolute BS manipulative power something...I always feel completely slimmed and demoralized after she does this. I absolutely
    admit that I score very high on your sensitivity tests. That's why I'm here. I will also continue to vote for you until they kick me off the voter rolls. (kidding) Have a great day and thanks for everything Bob
    James Suba commented on 15-Mar-2012 01:20 PM
    I attended the Celebrate Your Life conference in Scottsdale, AZ in the Fall of 2011. That was the first time I had ever heard you speak. And have been receiving your emails since. But have not taken enough time to read and listen as we all are so busy...my
    appologies. I took a little time today to read and listen. And I am reminded at how wonderful it is to hear you speak and to listen and read your insight. Thank you for sharing with all of us. I will add some time to my schedule and pay closer attention. It
    is so important for us to share our thoughts for healing and living a life of less stress and greater purpose. Thank you for your wonderful contribution.
    MEL commented on 15-Mar-2012 02:15 PM
    Those techniques would probably work with someone who is talking to you but what do you do when someone freezes you out for no apparent reason than their own attitude problem? I have a co-worker, I'll call E. Last week I was buried in my work and she asked
    me some sort of question and I responded to her saying something to me with a "What's up?" I'm a hyoer-focuser who does get absorbed in my work, which is very detailed. She shot back saying that she must of woken me up from a nap and "forget you." Later that
    day I told her "goodnight" (as I do anyone still in the office when I leave) and she ignored me. Now she won't speak to me at all. I have no idea how to deal with this situation other than just be ignored and leave it at that.
    Virginia Knapp commented on 15-Mar-2012 04:29 PM
    Thank you, Judith for all your wise emails. I am an annoying person. I have recently suspected that I am indeed, a Bodhisattva. Thank you for the confirmation. I come by it naturally, being the oldest child of two oldest children. PTSD was a major dynamic
    in my family. Life has been better since both parents are dead. Some solutions occur naturally. :)
    Juliet commented on 15-Mar-2012 04:43 PM
    I totally agree with you about learning patience. Especially important, I have found, is being patient with myself as I learn to transform the violence of my childhood into love that is healing and compassionate. I have been writing about this for some
    time and exploring the childhoods of both my parents and others who have negatively impacted my life. What I discovered was that childhood abuse and neglect and abandonment leads people into what John Bradshaw calls "toxic shame" from which they often act
    or react. This shame leads to poverty on every level - especially in relationships. When I learned that I was reacting from this toxic shame and that other people were as well, I was able to listen to they had to say with patience (not always easy) and look
    underneath their anger or negativity to see what was really going on. As I learned with myself, it is often not what others do to me that is so upsetting, but what it triggers from the past that is still unresolved. When I resolve the past stuff, the present
    day problem often disappears or I can handle it differently to obtain a better outcome. The steps you have outlined here to deal with frustration I have found to work. You obviously have done a lot of work on yourself and share your wisdom from what you have
    experienced and learned. I am currently reading "Emotional Freedom" and find so many of your insights so very helpful - even though I have been working on changing myself and my reactions for years. It is a lifelong journey, I know. And I want to thank you
    very much for being an important part of that journey.
    Donna Allen commented on 16-Mar-2012 08:22 AM
    Dear Judith, I was introduced to your work about 8 years ago by a shamanic practitioner, Neal Szpatura. www.shamanspath.org I have read all your books, savor your emails and videos, have your CD's, and attended one of your workshops in Lily Dale, NY. Your
    information...and darling personality...are invaluable and a blessings to us all. I've talked about you and have lent many of your materials to friends, family, and clients. (I'm an Angel Therapy Practitioner, trained by Doreen Virtue, PhD.) Thank you for
    everything! You have my vote. Love, light and appreciation, Donna
    stacey commented on 16-Mar-2012 07:23 PM
    Dear Judith, This thank you is long overdue! Two years ago I asked for "Emotional Freedom" for mother's day and for 8 months this book was with me almost 24/7. It's doubled in size (may have been dunked in the bathtub!), highlighted and some pages are
    torn - but this absolutely educational, wonderfully enlightening, eye opening treasure is my bible! I cannot express the amount of growing, insight and power I've gained from your words. After 45 years I was validated and realized other people do think/process
    like me! Thank you so very much, Stacey.
    Jean Lovecchio commented on 19-Mar-2012 03:00 PM
    Dear Judith: I have read Positive Energy and Emotional Freedom. Positive Energy changed my life. Never knew I was an 'empath'. I just knew i was 'different' as a child. Thank you for all the personal testimonies you gave. You would be a wonderful mother,
    but if not, you have mothered millions by your warmth, insight, kindness, generosity and smarts. George Washington was fatherless, but father of our country. I love you and have recommended your books to many. Even bought Positive Energy for my sister, but
    she has yet to read it. love, jean
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    I switched departments as I was a victim of verbal abuse and intimidation for 6 years from my previous department manager to another department of which others perceive me as an outsider, with ego full blast multiple times a day regarding the same matter,
    sometimes in front of clients. I have been a professional for over 30 years and either they are very jealous or just that ignorant and mean. Preferring not to refer to them as either nor judge. Breathing and Smiling are definitely more difficult and I find
    myself literally going home and going to sleep being so exhausted "not" dealing with the challenges of these persons. I am very intuitive and a sensitive which I do my best to tune out during the day as not to absorb their "ickiness". Suggestions???
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