Are you the person everyone comes to when they have a problem? Are your texts, emails and Facebook messages filled with “I can’t believe she did that?” “Who do they think they are?” etc?
You may just be a Middle Man Mediator. People know you as having a great ear and being open to hear about all of their problems. You’re patient and understanding. You offer advice as they nod along before they launch into another rant.
You feel needed and necessary to others, but then you hit your limit. You get tired of people’s nonsense. It never stops. They don’t take your advice and they sure as hell aren’t resolving their problems. You become their drama dumping ground and the pile keeps mounting.
Then it gets better. You get brought into the drama because your piece of advice was used as ammunition in the conflict. Suddenly you’re the target and in the muck of it. As you sludge around you ask yourself “How did I get here? I was just trying to help.”
Sound familiar? Fear not. I have the solution for you. This is not going to be easy, but I promise you it’s effective when implemented consistently and assertively.
Someone enters your space, mailbox, or phoneline and you can hear it in their tone that they are stressed out.
Step 1: Listen for Five Minutes without Chiming In.
Step 2: Stay Neutral. This is super hard, but if you want to be a solid resource, you need to take yourself and your opinions out of it.
Step 3: Acknowledge and Validate. “It sounds like this event really upset you. It makes sense you would feel this way.”
Step 4: Assess the Situation. Has the mood changed? Is the other person opening up or still firing off and venting.
Step 5: Assess Your Energy. How are you feeling? Do you want to engage? Do you want to invest your time in this exchange?
If you want to disengage, here is an example of how to move away. “It sounds like you’re pretty upset and need to vent. As your friend I want to help you through this. How can I support you?”
Typically people will say that they want to vent or they need a hug or just someone to listen. That’s your opportunity to transition. But there also may be a strong stuck energy that doesn’t want to move. In that case, there is nothing you can say or do to resolve the situation and it will suck the life out of you if you try.
If the negativity continues, “I hear that you’re upset and I really want to help you. But I don’t know how to do that. I’m working on some cool stuff that I think might be helpful for you when you’re ready.”
Be prepared for this person to unleash on you. When the fight comes out, it will try to take everything down around it. Your job is to hold your line.
Step 6: Remove Yourself from the Situation: Whatever you need to do or say, get out of there or off of the phone.
This may seem extremely harsh, but think about the impacts of the emotional garbage you take on from other people. It comes down to you and how you want to be treated. The great news is it’s all up to you! Here are a couple of questions to help you sift through your decision:
What would your life feel like if you didn’t have to take it on?
What do you get out of it by taking it on other people’s emotional baggage?
What value does it serve for you?