Recently, someone to whom I'm very close described me as an "emotional powder keg." It’s true. My emotions are a lot to handle, even for me. I’ve always been an emotionally-charged person and I doubt it’ll go away anytime soon.
While I have no problem being emotional, sometimes, other people who don't feel as many things all at once have a hard time handling me. I know it’s probably hard to know what to say to me when I’m feeling everything, but there are some things people say that simply aren’t helpful.
Here are dos and don'ts to keep in mind when dealing with people a tad (understatement) on the emotional side.
Don't: Call them too emotional.
Chances are, they already know. They have been emotional from the very first time they dropped a delicious treat on the ground at age 3. Everything makes them feel something.
You calling them too emotional isn’t news, and it won't change anything.
Do: Ask what they're feeling.
Sure, they're being emotional, but there are reasons behind it. Try to find out exactly what they're feeling. When they confide in you, it might help them reflect, which, in turn, might calm them down a little bit.
Don’t: Say, “I know how you feel,” if you don’t.
It’s okay if you have no idea and their emotions seem insane to you. We all feel things differently. If you say you know how you feel when you clearly don’t, they might think you’re just trying to dismiss their feelings as quickly as possible so you don’t have to deal anymore.
No one wants to feel like their emotions or problems don’t matter.
Do: Say you want to understand how they feel.
They can probably tell you don’t fully get it, but if you at least acknowledge that and present yourself as being open to learning, they will feel a lot more comfortable letting you in.
Don’t: Get angry.
Even if they cry for no reason and it frustrates the hell out of you, try not to get mad. It’s okay to be frustrated, but try not to be visibly upset. Doing so will only make them more emotional and, thus, make things worse.
Think about how their lack of control makes them feel. You don’t need to be angry; they are angry enough with themselves.
Do: Say it’s okay.
This seems like a simple phrase, but often, emotional people learn their emotions aren’t okay. Too many emotions are often regarded as negative, and so, they get angry with themselves when they can’t conform to this untrue standard.
Say it’s okay and nothing worth being angry with themselves. They might initially say you don’t understand, but hearing someone say "it’s okay" and that there’s nothing wrong with them will instantly calm them down, even if they doesn't realize it. We all sometimes need that validation.
Don’t: Try to combat the emotions with logic.
Logically, yes, they might be acting ridiculous. Sure, maybe you have a perfectly logical solution to this problem that is making them emotional. But, when you try to fix everything with this amazing logical solution of yours, you’re just making everything worse.
In their emotional states, they are not equipped for logic. Emotions are not always logical. What’s more is that they might not want you to fix their problems. Rather, they just want you to listen.
Do: Acknowledge that you may not be able to help.
Even if you know (think) you can help, instead, say you can’t. Say you know you can’t necessarily fix this immediately, but you’re there to listen and this problem is still important. Honestly, that might be all they need.
Don’t: Say it’s not a big deal.
Yes, it is. Maybe not to you, but to them? One hundred percent a big deal. For that moment, at least. Ten minutes from now, it might not be anymore, but in that moment, it is and that’s important.
You saying that being three minutes late to work isn’t a big deal doesn’t make it any less of big deal in the person's mind.
Do: Check in with them later to see if it’s still a big deal.
The fact that you care enough to ask about their emotional trials and tribulations, no matter how silly, will mean a lot.
You checking back in might also help them see that they were maybe being kind of silly, without you having to say it. Self-realization is always better than you pointing it out.
Don’t: Talk down to them.
Just because someone is overly emotional doesn’t mean that he or she is a child.
Talking down to people will just make them more upset and lead them to shutting you out. Don’t be a jerk. Treat them the same way you would want to be treated if you were upset about something -- with respect.
Do: Show a little emotion.
Show them they aren't silly or childish for being emotional. Even if you have the emotional capacity of a slug and have slightly robotic tendencies when it comes to dealing with people, try.
Show you can be a little emotional, too, sometimes. You don’t have the Pacific-Ocean-amount of emotions they do, but if you can show even a teaspoon amount, they will appreciate it. It’ll make them feel a little less alone — and a little less crazy.