Dealing with Cranky People

We all expect people to accommodate us when we are cranky, we have a lot less patience when other people are being cranky with us. So how do we not become cranky ourselves when faced with a cranky person?

First: recognize that their cranky tantrum probably isn’t about you.  

If you are a parent, you know this well. Your child will be cranky if THEY didn’t get a nap, of if THEY didn’t get the food they wanted, or whatever.  Your job is to help them, but the source of their cranky – probably isn’t you.

Second: Don’t make it about you

It is very easy to take things personally. But if a person is cranky with you, don’t internalize it and make it about you and how this cranky person is making you cranky.  Why go there or put yourself through that. Seriously – don’t fight stupidity with stupidity. That’s just stupid.

Third: Remain calm

Cranky people are cranky because something is wrong and they don’t know how to ask for help in a way that is … civilized.  Forgive them for this. Cranky people need compassion. This doesn’t mean you let them walk all over you or bully you. It just means you are going to consider them through the lens of compassion to ensure you keep the focus on THEM and not YOU!

Fourth: Use behavioral science

People who throw tantrums do so either because they are not in control of their behavior or because they have learned that throwing tantrums gets them what they want or because they desperately need a nap or food or something.  If it is your job to help them solve whatever the problem is – you can do this using behavioral techniques that focus on the other person’s behavior to help them solve their problem in a more calm, civilized way.  And yes, behavioral science can help with this.  if this is a professional situation or if this is a bullying situation.

Finally: Stick to your boundaries

Not everyone can be helped. If someone isn’t behaving respectfully, and you try to help them, and they get worse, well, that’s ok. You didn’t fail, they did. Don’t let them draw you in. Know what your boundaries are and don’t cross them.

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