Disarming Agitation

I love nothing better than sharing the things that have helped to make my gym successful and I try to keep it simple. My advice for disarming an agitated parent? It’s as simple as two words: “I agree.”

Think about times when you were that agitated parent. Wouldn’t it have made you feel better just to know that someone was listening to your frustrations and feelings and cared that you were agitated? To expand on this idea a little more, perhaps it is also about putting yourself in the parent’s shoes for a moment. The Golden Rule is an amazing thing. It really works because – when you get down to the basics – we’re all pretty similar and react to things in similar ways. So try treating someone as you would want to be treated and you’ll rarely miss the mark.

From my recent newsletter: 

“I agree”. Two words that will disarm an agitated parent, frustrated teacher, or a frightened child, in an instant. ” I agree, it’s hard.” In light situations keep the words after “I agree” nonspecific, when possible.

At a luncheon last Thursday a lady next to me looking very sad. I asked her if she wasn’t feeling well.  She said, “My daughter passed away. It’s so hard to get past this overwhelming sense of loss.” I looked at her and said “I agree, you never will. As time goes on your grief will move slowly to the back of your head then drift down and settle in your heart”. She blinked several times and said “Thank you for not telling me how to feel. You put in perspective how I do feel. I can look forward to a time when I will carry her right here.” Then she put her hand over her heart. Boy, I was just glad I said somewhat the right thing.

Another powerful statement I use is, “I respectfully disagree”. I use this only when people are speaking negatively about themselves. Generally I will say “I respectfully disagree. You are none of the words you just used. Think about how you would describe someone you respect. You’re speaking about yourself, you know.” This remark always elicits a smile.

Eye contact and absolute sincerity are keys to connection in these simple statements.

The parents who bring their children to our facilities want to know that we care. And when we show that we do, it elicits positive responses, whether it’s in defusing a situation or not. Being consistent and genuine in showing that, will almost always give us the benefit of the doubt in any situation that arises.

This works for employees, co-workers and children. It’s because we’re all human. We have feelings. We make mistakes. We care. The secret is to find a special way to show it.