Nothing drives an angry person more up the wall than refusing to fight or be indignant with them.
I remember a time when I saw two homeless guys sitting on a bench. I was walking back from getting lunch at a barbecue place when I worked at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. One of the guys was black and one was white. They were doing fine, and then they started arguing, and one hit the other. I told them that they needed to make peace. I pointed out that they were friends (or at least friends enough to sit together in the first place) and they didn’t need to fight. They agreed, but then a little later the white guy got up, sidled up to me and started saying something racist. I didn’t agree with him – I’m on the side of peace. It has nothing to do with race.
He thought I was going to agree with him because I am white. He thought I’d be on his side. He was very frustrated that I wasn’t on his team.
A lady came into the library recently and complained about the lack of parking there that day. I told her there was a job fair going on next door. She said – so they have to park here? I said that lot is now full, and they are parking here now. She was still upset. I pointed out that this number of people going to a job fair just shows how desperate people are for jobs.
I was trying to get her to have some compassion, but it didn’t work.
She said that there are a lot of other places that have more unemployment.
This means nothing. Pain is pain, no matter where it is, or the amount of it. Just because another city has more unemployment doesn’t mean that the need isn’t great here. Her comment makes no sense. Really, she was just saying that she was inconvenienced.
Her inconvenience is nothing in relation to their need.
I could tell that she wanted me to get upset right along with her, and I wasn’t. I wasn’t freaking out at all. It isn’t “our” parking lot that “they” are taking.
I’ve also learned that one of the most amazing things you can do to someone who is angry at you personally (not at a situation) is to ask them to pray for you.
A lady came in once and asked me if we had a vending machine. I pointed out that we don’t have a vending machine because we are a library and you can’t eat or drink in here. She got very upset with me and started cursing at me. She finished by saying that she was a Christian.
I’m so glad that she told me because I would never have known based on her actions.
So I asked her to pray for me, and she immediately calmed down. It was like taking the wind out of her sails. How can you get angry at someone you are praying for?
I refused to get to where she wanted me to be.
This is all like verbal aikido.
Remember the phrase – if you wrestle with a pig, you’ll both get dirty, but the pig will have more fun.