One person’s frustration is another person’s…

Posted on May 9, 2009. Filed under: Games, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy |

I said I was going to write about multiple blog identities, and I will, I really will, but, it’s just that this other thing came up in the meantime. I was working on a project (actually a blog) for this organization, and, I got an email from a colleague who is unhappy because this organization’s blog does not come up first when she types the org’s name in “googlesearch”.Β  It’s kind of strange to maintain a website for an organization, because each individual in it wants something different. Or doesn’t want anything at all from it: “Website? What is Website? What for we need Website?”

So, this person’s unhappiness with me manifested itself in an email saying she is extremely frustrated that when she “googles” the org, the first listing is a sort of anti-us blog post. My first impulse is to tell her to stop “goggling” us then! As I am somewhat nicer than a person who would actually say that, my second impulse is to explain how it takes time for site info. to “propagate” across the web, and how I’ve installed some Search Engine Optimization tools, etc.

My third, (and finally the one I’ve acted on) impulse is to not respond until I am clear with myself on why I’ve allowed her frustration to become my frustration. My “job” in that moment was not to ease her frustration, but to look at the situation objectively, see if there were any action steps I could or wanted to take now, and assess whether and how to respond to the colleague.

So many times we hear from someone “I’m frustrated” or “I’m mad” or “I’m not happy with your work” or “I don’t like what you’ve done and you need to change!” We tend to have a “fight or flight” response to this. First reaction might be “Oh, yeah?” or might be “I’m sorry, I’ll try to make it better.” When I allow myself to think about it, I realize neither one of those extremes is appropriate. The problem is not (emphatically, NOT) the other person’s frustration, or unhappiness, or dissatisfaction. The problem, if there is one, (I tend not to believe in the theory of problems, other than in a mathematical sense) is in how the actual situation or piece of work is working.

The truth (according to Muse) is that my colleague’s “frustration” is none of my business. It is an emotion she is experiencing. It could have been triggered by any number of things, and unless I’m a psychotherapist, and she is my client, it’s not my job to make her feel better. Now, if I do an honest assessment, and realize, as I did here, I wasn’t doing all I could, as well and as quickly as I could, to change the situation which (apparently) triggered her “frustration”, I may be able to offer a solution which, in turn, allows her frustration to dissipate.

The danger in any of these business relationships (again, the Truth as I See It) is in creating solutions with the GOAL of making people feel better, rather than, as in this case, making the website WORK better.

As I look back on a childhood dynamic which seems sort of hilarious to me now, although it plagued me then, I see how we can become caught up in wanting to help people to feel better. Worthy goal, you might think. The only issue with it is…it can’t be done!!! The only way for someone else to become happier (or less frustrated) is for them to examine within themselves what would be a next step towards that. We cannot change people’s feelings about themselves. We can hold up a mirror if we choose, but that’s about it.

So here’s the family dynamic. Picture me: Cute Teenager. I’m minding my own business, expressing my opinion, and doing whatever it is I do. My father comes to me and says “You know, your Mom is mad at you!” If this happened now, I would probably say something like “Really?! Well, I hope she feels better soon.” Back then though, my first thought is “I screwed up again. What can I do to make it right? OR Well, she can just be mad, ’cause I’m not changing anything!” Both of these are reactions. Both assume that I was somehow responsible for her “feelings”. I’m not; never was. The funny thing to me, looking back on this, is that she used my father for her henchman. She wouldn’t tell me she was mad at me herself, she’d complain to dad, and then HE would tell me. I gave up asking what he’d suggest I DO about that.

These sorts of dynamics translate to adult relationships. From there, it is my “job” to sort out what dynamics I wish to include in my beingness, and which no longer serve me. It’s a dicey game. Sure is exhilarating, though! πŸ˜‰


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13 Responses to “One person’s frustration is another person’s…”

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Good points, but when someone dumps their frustration on you (or aims it at you) it does become yours, in a way. Add in office politics in the first example and the waters get muddied. I don’t know what I would have done.

Oh so good, Muse! I love it…
“Really? I hope she feels better soon.”
ahahahaha! Spot on!

ellaella makes a good point. you’re right that nobody can change how you feel except yourself but at the same time, our emotions can be influenced by what is going on around us and that includes the people we interact with in our lives. the emotions can add up throughout the course of the day.

but indeed, sometimes we feel mad at someone, only to realise later that we are actually really bothered by someone or something else. i’m not very good at figuring this out until much later, sadly! 😦

so did you figure out why you’ve allowed her frustration became your frustration? because i always have difficulty understanding why am i rattled by a person or the reaction.

I am so guilty of taking out my frustrations on other people. I try not to. It is my ‘issue’ alone when I get that way. Most of my family are blunt enough to set me back in my place if I do that to them.

I wonder why it is so easy to do that? When we know deep down it is our problem, why we feel the way we do.

Looking for a shoulder, or a like mind or not wanting to take it out or hashing it out with the person or thing that is causing those feelings. Not wanting to look at the mirror? Hmmmmm…

I think when I get frustrated with politics (because that is what mostly sets me off) it is because for the most part the people in the position that could actually do something, don’t listen. Or don’t take action and they are paid to serve us. We pay them to do so. It’s like talking to a wall and paying for it. So, then I take it out on other people who talk politics! Oh, that is so not right.

~thebeadden slinks back into hiding.~ LOL!

I would say, even if that won’t work: “I don’t want your emotional baggage! I’ve got my own to carry… and they’re heavy and mislabelled!

mislabelled, haha! good one.

I agree with your approach concerning other people’s problems (which reminds me of a blogroll friend who shares the same opinion).
In my experience,I don’t know why many of my friends and acquaintances always consulted me with their personal problems until I got fed up because many come to me only when they have problems!
As you’ve implied, other people’s frustrations (OPF) are contagious if we allow it to be.

Because I am old – and have worked for a few people I have developed this Karma-like response to those who employ me.

1. I am a brilliant employee – I work overtime, sometimes even for free if I am going to get ‘it’ done on or before time.

2. I am an employee, not a slave – if you really think that there are other employers who don’t want my services out there – “YOU’RE NUTS!”

3. I do look employers in the eye and have a simple, yet succinct term for them if the get in my way – annoy me – just make me really pissed off because of their infantile life that I, let alone they, cannot control – that term is “F&*k you!”

4. I am a human being, I have failure written all over my chromaticism genetic little bits that make me up as that human. So do you (they) who piss you off. Not a slave is I – so then it is a matter of negotiation as to where they get off my back or which pub do I go get a beer in?

5. Some say I am aggressive – I disagree, I just won’t take no sh*t!

I was walked all over once – I STILL haven’t lived that down – I hate being made a fool of. But that is just me.


LOVE IT! so hard to remember this tho when needed… I’m working on it.

I guess I still am not there at that level…

Really?! Well, I hope she feels better soon.

level!! So I guess I still am not that grown up?! πŸ˜€

I really don’t like it when someone takes their frustration out on you. I think a lot of times situations would turn out a lot better in the end if the person that is frustrated would just cool off before exposing their frustrated selves to others. I’ve noticed with myself that if someone has a problem and comes to me nicely, I am more apt to help resolve the problem than if they come completely blown up about it.

First, let me apologize, ella, for taking so long to respond. Just came off the most action-packed, busiest week in my Universe so far. Your point is well taken, in that if I’m hearing/seeing/feeling/smelling/tasting something then it IS mine; it is something I must address. I think I am fortunate in that I don’t have a “boss” per se (other than myself; and that boss is a challenging and sometimes scattered one). πŸ˜‰ On the other hand, I don’t think I’d actually work for someone who interacted with me this way, at least not for very long! When it’s a colleague, substantially “equal” to me in position, I feel it incumbent upon myself tho remind both that person and myself that I don’t work FOR them, but WITH them. (Of course, I’m much more subtle about it than I am here!) πŸ™‚

Thanks BD. I would mean this with all sincerity, really! It, um, could sound a bit snarky, I’m sure. The Buddha is reported to have responded to the question “How does one obtain enlightenment?” —with “None of your business.” That’s the sort of spiritual leader that inspires me! πŸ˜€

Yes, sulz, I agree with you! I think others’ feelings and moods are a huge influence upon us. I do think our own states of mind help to attract feedback which supports that state, though, too. I wasn’t so much blaming my colleague as identifying with her complaints, and then becoming mad at myself because her basic issues were valid, even if the way she expressed them were not to my taste. So, to answer your question, yes, I did figure it out once I was able to step back and look at it from a less emotional viewpoint. This colleague reflected my own feelings of inadequacy regarding the project, and I needed to tell myself that I’m doing the best I can, with all the juggling I’m doing now, and then to write myself notes and prioritize my tasks in a sensible way, based on my perception of the needs of the organization; taking into consideration my colleague’s wishes, but not letting her emotions come before my objectivity. Whew! Look what you got me to write, there! πŸ˜›

Hi again BD! πŸ™‚ I’m not saying YOU do this, but I’ve participated in things called “pity parties” where, when I’m frustrated about an issue, I talk to other people also frustrated, and we compare notes. Sometimes it makes us feel better because we realize we are not alone (or crazy…well…) πŸ˜‰ in our feelings. I LOVE your analogy about how politicians “listen”: “It’s like talking to a wall and paying for it.” Hehehe! πŸ˜€

Yes, in spite of yourself, you remind me to be kind, V S. πŸ˜‰ We all have some of that emotional baggage, alright. And “mislabeled”, TOO funny. That sneaky sulz snuck in before I could say it. πŸ˜›

OPF, my new favorite acronym, poch! Perhaps they see people such as us, with our objectivity and creativity, as welcome respite from those who’d rather solve or criticize. πŸ™‚

First off, Will, if YOU are OLD, than I am, um, sort of, almost, close to being rather near to approaching extremely young middle age. And I’m not having that! πŸ˜‰ I agree with all your points, however I probably don’t exhibit the same behaviour as you do in #s 3 & 5, hehe. I AM instructed in negotiation with #4! Something to keep in mind; well done! πŸ™‚

Thank you, IdeaJump! Lots of us are works in progress, aren’t we?, and always will be, I suppose! πŸ˜›

I used to believe I would grow up one day, Apar. While I do get older, and wiser (I hope) there will always be some things that still make me feel young and inexperienced. I learned the attitude about “Hope she feels better” a long time ago in an episode of Taxi. The scene, nearly at the end of this video, (8:15) is in one of the early episodes with “Reverend Jim”. He and Tony have a fundamental difference in opinion about patriotic behaviour, and I learned from Jim how to handle things if one is facing opposition! πŸ˜€

So true, Shane! We all get upset with each other from time to time. I think the person trying to dump their “stuff” on us is not doing her/himself any favors. As you say, they are more likely to get cooperation if they’re kind and polite. πŸ™‚

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