Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
One rage-filled political episode in the United States has recently been resolved (see previous post)–but that’s apparently only one skirmish in a bigger war.
From all accounts, the opposition seems hell-bent on keeping the rage inflamed until their goals are accomplished, and the stress of the fray will require everyone’s careful attention to managing emotions in order to rise above what may come.
By maintaining calm hearts and clear minds we will be better able to proceed with civility and resist being caught up in the anger, both of which are essential components of a just society. One way of doing so is to maintain what is called “emotional intelligence” (EQ).
Howard Gardner, Harvard theorist, developer of the Multiple Intelligences Theory, and one of the leading researchers in the area of EQ, defines the concept as “…the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.”
Gardner and other researchers cite five major categories of EQ skill: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills (further discussion, here).
But to the focus of this post, how emotionally intelligent people deal with toxic people, as in, how does one maintain calm and clarity in the political arena when there are those who chose to engage in rage instead of reason, here are some strategies.
Keeping Calm As They Rage On: 12 Strategies
An article in “Talentsmart,” an Online site that specializes in information on emotional intelligence, offers the following strategies in the article, “How Emotionally Intelligent People Handle Toxic People” (by Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.).
Although there is a righteous anger (aka righteous indignation) people exhibit as needed, the goal in that case is to expose evil and solve the problem. Righteous anger, as opposed to toxic rage, is a means toward an end.
What is often evidenced in the rage referenced here, however, is the kind of anger that is an end game in itself wielded to distract, disrupt, and overpower, not solve and restore.
What follows are excerpts related to dealing with this kind of destructive anger. I encourage the reader to read the entire feature. These are excellent strategies for those who wish to rise above the trouble and focus on solutions. According to Bradberry, here are the EQ strategies people employ:
1) They Set Limits (Especially with Complainers)
Complainers and negative people are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions…
You can avoid this only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary…
2)They Don’t Die in the Fight
Successful people know how important it is to live to fight another day, especially when your foe is a toxic individual. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.
3)They Rise Above
Toxic people drive you crazy because their behavior is so irrational…
You don’t need to respond to the emotional chaos—only the facts.
4)They Stay Aware of Their Emotions
Maintaining an emotional distance requires awareness. You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons if you don’t recognize when it’s happening…
5)They Establish Boundaries
…Once you’ve found your way to rise above a person, you’ll begin to find their behavior more predictable and easier to understand. This will equip you to think rationally about when and where you have to put up with them and when you don’t…
You can establish a boundary, but you’ll have to do so consciously and proactively.
6)They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy
…When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them…
7)They Don’t Focus on Problems—Only Solutions
Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state…
When it comes to toxic people, fixating on how crazy and difficult they are gives them power over you…
8)They Don’t Forget
Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance…
9)They Squash Negative Self-Talk
10)They Limit Their Caffeine Intake
11)They Get Some Sleep
12)They Use Their Support System
It’s tempting, yet entirely ineffective, to attempt tackling everything by yourself. To deal with toxic people, you need to recognize the weaknesses in your approach to them. This means tapping into your support system to gain perspective on a challenging person…
Many of these recommendations you’ve likely heard before, but may I encourage you to pull them front and center in your consideration of how to deal with the toxic people who are just now engaging in a political rage that has put us all on edge, not to mention having created a very toxic level of fear due to the physical violence that often accompanies such rage. And, as we’ve seen in recent weeks, there are also verbal and emotional assaults to deal with, too, that can be just as damaging, if not more so, in certain respects.
It is essential that we rise above the rage lest we fall into it–and everybody loses.