February 3, 2008

How To Deal With A Frustrating Situation

atching unsuspecting bystanders become victims of an elaborate practical joke, I love it! You've seen Candid Camera or The Jamie Kennedy Experiment. Some poor soul watches in horror as his car gets pushed off a cliff or arrives home from work to find a realtor closing a deal on his house. Hilarious stuff!

Interestingly, it's the victims' perspective on the bizarre situation – not the situation itself – that dictates how they approach it. Some see their predicament as weirdly amusing. These folks remain calm, attempt to get a grasp on exactly what's happening and concentrate on finding a solution. Other people, while dealing with the same situation, view it very differently. They choose to focus on their frustration, rant and rave and generally cope appallingly.

Do you think a victim is more likely to realize they're being pranked if they stay relaxed or freak out? When you face a problem, are you more likely to find a creative solution if you stay calm or get annoyed? Bottom line: The way you choose to look at a frustrating situation can either make it more manageable or impossible to handle.

A Systematic Approach

1. Proactively seek alternative viewpoints: Remember the importance of seeing the bigger picture. Acknowledge the possibility that accessing another angle on the situation might reveal a previously invisible solution. Seeking out alternative points of view will also damp-down feelings of frustration associated with your original perspective.

2. Don't act until you've identified three points of view: For example, next time you find yourself in conflict with a colleague, client or supplier, try this: Firstly, write a paragraph explaining the situation from your point of view. Secondly, write a paragraph from the viewpoint of the other person. Finally, write a paragraph from the perspective of an objective bystander. Actually writing down each viewpoint forces you to think and provides much greater clarity than merely pondering each perspective inside your own head.

3. Dispute each view: Argue with each of the three perspectives pretending, in each case, that you're actually disagreeing with another person. Most of us are much more practiced at arguing with other people than with ourselves. Why not leverage this natural ability?

Taking these three steps will dilute your feelings of frustration and provide additional information you can use to manage your predicament. Take time to see the bigger picture and let the joke be at someone else's expense!

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