This is a follow-up to How to Not Punch People in the Throat, the handy step by step guide to avoiding assault charges when you get annoyed to the point of potential violence.
Fact: Most annoying people don’t know that they are annoying. It’s true. You probably have at least one frenemy that you want to punch at any given time, just because she breathed in your general direction. That person doesn’t know she’s annoying, and that’s why you have employed some “How to NOT punch people” best practices.
I’m here to break a little bad news to you, though. In some instances, YOU’RE the one that is about to get punched…and you don’t even know it. I know, it’s a shocker. GO ahead and take a moment to let that fact sink in. I’ll wait.
*gets coffee, watches a few pointless youtube videos, checks email*
Better? Ok, let’s continue.
Ever wondered how to tell if a comment or behavior of yours is going to get you punched in the throat? Since I admittedly have a hot Irish temper and the tendency to Hulk Smash items (usually foam cups, cuz I’m not that strong and smashing things can get expensive), I know these signs well. I’m usually the one giving the signals to the perpetrator to run away. I’m going to reveal these signs now, as a favor to you. Because I care about your safety, you guys. You’re welcome.
Here are a few tell-tale signs:
1) You’re getting ignored even though you keep talking.
2) The subject keeps changing to a different topic than the one you want to discuss.
3) Responses are given in short, concise sentences…usually one or two words, or sometimes just a mere grunt. If you hear the word “fine” more than once, you’re in trouble.
4) The person is consuming copious amounts of chocolate or wine as a way to sedate themselves while talking to you.
5) Flared nostrils.
6) Narrow eyes and a stabby look in the eye. – This one is key. If someone is looking at you like this, they’re already imagining what it would be like to punch you in the throat. Time for you to employ one of the following tips.
Remember kids, this is what you’re trying to avoid:
How to NOT Get Punched in the Throat
1) Be polite before beginning a conversation. “Do you have a minute?” is better than launching into a game of 20 questions. You may be interrupting something very important.
2) If the agitated is staring at a computer screen, avoiding eye contact and diligently trying to work, quit trying to interrupt her. She may be deep in thought. Excuse yourself and ask to speak to her later. She will appreciate that you respected her time, and will usually respond in a positive manner.
3) Know your audience. Read visual cues. This is especially key if you are a morning person and the person you wish to speak to is not. You could get punched just for smiling before 9 a.m. If your need to talk to the individual is great, do the following: Approach slowly and quietly. Hand person a cup of hot coffee fixed the way he likes it. Don’t act too chipper. Speak slowly. Remember, NO sudden movements or loud noises. You wouldn’t wake a sleeping bear, would you? Of course not. Treat tired night person the same way. The same is true if you are a night person speaking to a morning person during evening hours. Just substitute wine or warm milk for the coffee. Maybe hand him a blanket. Other option: have the conversation at lunch time. Usually both morning people and night people are alert enough at high noon to use and understand complete sentences.
4) Excuse yourself from the conflict. You can’t get punched if you’re in a different room. Reconvene when the agitation has subsided.
5) Distract and flee. If you are receiving “the glare,” immediately hand chocolate, wine, or cash to the person and then run away. Cash almost always works.
6) Realize that you are not the center of the universe. It’s true. Neither you nor the agitated Hulk-like creature in front of you are. Sometimes you have to be the first to realize it and concede. You know, for safety.
7) Learn to compromise. Ultimately Hulkster wants to punch you because you are a) annoying him, b) interrupting him, or c) acting bull-headed. Stop it.
8) If 1-7 don’t work, wear proper protective clothing at all times. Just be sure to hydrate, that gear gets hot.
Remember, it’s unlikely that the individual you are agitating will ever change, so you must learn to work with the person, not against. Perhaps she hasn’t read How to Not Punch People in the Throat yet. You could share the link in an email, because that’s not passive aggressive at all.