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Handling Forum Irritations


Well-Known Member
Another long post. If you don't read it, please don't comment on it. Thanks. AJ

You ever get really irritated at something somebody said? Feel they are attacking you? Here are some tips on how to handle things that get under your skin.

1) Put the best face on it. Sometimes people just get stupid and say things they don't realize are offensive or can be taken as offensive. Try to ask yourself if there's some way to interpret what was said that doesn't reflect badly on you. For instance, "I've usually found people with that attitude to be obnoxious," is a general statement of the speaker's reaction to something. I'd take the "usually" as meaning, "sometimes" and thus, that I might not be obnoxious, and, in fact, the speaker might not think of me as obnoxious at all. He/she might be actually expressing surprise that I, having that attitude, am not obnoxious!

2) Realize that everybody has a bad day once in a while. It's not like you and I've never said something we later realize was pretty irritating. And, even more to the point, that we intended it to be so! So unless the abuse is consistent and predictable, ignore it and move on. Think of it as bumping into somebody on the subway. You pretty much expect they didn't do it on purpose and that it will happen just once, so you, usually, say nothing and just shrug it off. Try that in the forum when you feel a bit irritated.

3) Look for the reason you are irritated. Sometimes it's because the words contradict something you believe and it irritates you that the person can't see it or doesn't see it from your perspective. Sadly, we often see things so clearly it's obvious we are right, but they don't. Of course, if it was that obvious you probably wouldn't be discussing it, would you? That which is obvious is usually obvious to all and has no need to be pointed out. So if they don't see it?...maybe it's not as obvious as you think. Spell it out starting from agreed upon things and work your way to why it follows those agreed upon things. It's a lot more work than assuming it's obvious but it also avoids letting the irritation become a problem.

Sometimes you get irritated because you are more experienced, know more, and otherwise should be taken more seriously than the person is taking your remarks. I'm quite certain a good doctor might be a bit irritated when a patient tells him/her they are wrong about their diagnosis. But still, nobody knows everything about anything and thus, patiently listening to an uninformed opinion shows respect and when you are sure you understand their point and can gently address their errors, you are probably going to get a better hearing than if you shoot from the hip. So slow down and don't take offense that the "ignorant" person speaks, but help them be less ignorant, instead.

3) Perhaps the most difficult aspect of being irritated is that it's an emotion. Emotions are usually short lived and thus, if you want to act rather than react, give yourself time. Take ten or twenty minute away from the thing and concentrate on something else. Then come back to it to reply. Acclimating ourselves to the presence of an irritation means knowing that it's there and expecting it to be there when we look. The first time we see something or read something that irritates us our bodies react and the chemicals of emotion flood our system. Over the next few minutes the body uses those chemicals to respond and that's the problem. We don't always see clearly when our system senses "danger," and thus we choose either "flight" or, in this case, worse, "fight." That's when we say things that usually escalate things. So give your body time to process the chemicals released from your initial encounter with the idea/words and the second time you see/read them you will find your body reacts with less violence because they are expected. They aren't a surprise. It takes between five and twenty minutes for some chemicals in our body to be removed/used up, etc, so give yourself time to calm down.

4) If the irritation is on-going? Three possibilities. First, ignore it and just let yourself be irritated. It's okay to have the emotion of irritation, but it's not okay to use it as a basis of attacking others, in my opinion. Second, deal with it directly, but privately and calmly. Be specific. A person can't change their behaviors if they don't know what those behaviors are. "Your attitude irritates me" isn't helpful as "your attitude" is a summary of a bunch of behaviors and words rather than something pointing to the specific words and actions you are summarizing. Instead of "your attitude is condescending," for instance, try, "when you went on about how ignorant people are regarding economics, it sounded to me like condescension." Or third, take the words seriously. If the person is calling you condescending, ask them what words or actions you said or did that he/she found condescending. In this you can focus on what was actually said/done and see if you can discover how it could have been read/heard that way. You may be surprised that you did, indeed, sound condescending!

5) Finally, perhaps you are constantly irritated by somebody and, having done some of the above, you find you just can't communicate with the person. Sometimes people are just expressing themselves and have little concept of how their words are impacting others. These people usually speak in short, hard, and somewhat confusing sentences as if you can follow the connections between the various parts in the same way they do. They usually don't realize how much they are leaving out and get irritated themselves when they aren't understood. Not much you can do with poor communication or lazy communications skills but either ignore them completely or probe them with questions of clarification. Or just stop talking to them. It's a fact that sometimes that too is necessary.

Some thought on forum irritation.