April 11, 2016


How do you deal with highly emotional people who make all their decisions based on knee jerk reactions?

My answer: “it’s not easy”. For one thing, these people usually refuse to see it from any other viewpoint than theirs. They have to be right and they often make it a bigger problem than it is or even imagine that it’s a problem when none exists. The problem is they are a hostage to their emotions, so all their decision making gets filtered through this process. Imagine a sieve and the only things that can get through this sieve are negative thoughts, emotions and perceptions. What doesn’t get through are the positive outcomes or looking at a situation through a different viewpoint or a different lens. The chances of actually thinking about the situation from a different angle are limited, therefore so are the solutions.

So the key question is, what can you do with this type of person?

It does require patience from you and you have to be willing to look at what they have said and show them how else they could look at this situation. The chances of this working are, honestly speaking, very low. I don’t want to give you a rosy picture that you can turn this person around, because they often don’t want to listen to reason. In their mind they fabricate the worst situation and it becomes their reality. In addition, if they are in the company of others who share that same personality type, they can join forces and make it a ‘me-against-you’ type of scenario.

At the end of the day if this person cannot see it from your viewpoint the chances of them coming around and actually having an intelligent conversation with you are remote.

So, what can you do?

My suggestion is to walk away. They are not worth the effort. If you have done the right thing, in good faith, and have not harmed them in any way, walk away. If they don’t have the emotional maturity (or, as I call it, the emotional IQ) to deal with this rationally, there is not much you can do. Walk away. Have compassion in your heart for these people, maybe some sympathy and love if you can muster it. Often these people can be spiteful and talk behind your back, ignoring all the good things you have done for them. Don’t get angry with them; there is too much hate and anger in the world as it is. Just walk away.

The sad thing is many of these people are in positions of power and they abuse this position. From my experience, it is often because they don’t have the skills needed for that position. The social skills they have are sadly lacking in substance. You see, it takes a lot more to be a leader than reading numbers; it takes the ability to think and not over react. A knee jerk response is often an overreaction. Sometimes the overreaction hides something else going on in their lives, it accumulates and then they erupt. Often you will see these people calm on the outside but inside they are churning with anger because they don’t have the ability to address the underlying problem in the first place. They often display a passive aggressive personality.

At the end of the day it’s your choice to walk away; if they don’t want to return your calls or emails, be satisfied you have done all you can and move on. Read one of my previous articles on “When to Move on”.