Keep Your Cool - Survive

Posted by Lakshmi Gopal on Wed, Feb 9, 2011  
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The other day, my husband and I were driving down the fast 8-lane Noida expressway. Another car suddenly overtook us, grazing our new MUV. We stopped by the side of the road and gesticulated to the driver of the other car to stop. He scowled and reluctantly brought his car to a halt. We asked him sternly him why he overtook us so suddenly. To this, the man gave us the typically cowbelt look of ‘kya kar loge?’ (Hindi: ‘What will you do about it?’). Even our badly grazed car did not move him to guilt. We, however, controlled our frustration and drove away.


More and more people in metropolitan cities nowadays are a tearing hurry -- to get to work, to dash down to the shopping complex, to zoom into their kids’ schools, and to generally race against other vehicles, as if they were in a F1 competition. It seems like everyone drives around, accelerating on frayed tempers, not heeding horns or brakes. Incidents of road rage, assault, street fights, and loud arguments have become everyday occurrences.


Experts believe people behave impulsively and aggressively because of a combination of factors, ranging from a stressed out lifestyle to lack of family support and personality disorders.


The number of people who go to doctors, to get anger issues treated, has doubled in the past couple of years. More than half the patients at a well-known psychologist’s clinic admitted to losing their cool easily. The trend of nuclear families, long working hours and less time to interact with friends means there is nobody with whom individuals can share and express their feelings. This results in high frustration levels. The attitude of ‘might is right’, adds fuel to the fire


It’s imperative to understand the importance of staying calm in the face of a potentially explosive situation on the road. There are many ways to bring such a situation under control, provided one has the will to do so. What should one do, when faced with angry, uncouth behavior?


Stay calm and speak softly. This will defuse tensions and make the scenario less threatening. One should breathe slowly, use a calm voice, keep an appropriate distance from the aggressor, and make sure that one’s face and body send calming vibes. One should manage one’s own emotions – sounding or looking irritable will escalate anger and arguments. Sometimes, a smile can do miracles to help iron out a problem.


No point arguing. Arguing or trying to reason with someone who is yelling or angry, is futile. One must not to lose one’s temper or become impatient. It’s important to let the other person know that he/she can’t be helped out if they are angry or yelling.


Accept the other person’s point of view. The other person’s emotion or point of view can be acknowledged – it is important for the person to know that one is listening and trying to help. It’s not important agree with the person but the message of empathy must get across. Don’t avoid the person thinking he/she will go away – try and deal with what they need, quickly and directly.


When at home. Communicate with the family, participate in sports and meditation, and pursuit of hobbies. Listen to soothing music to calm the nerves.


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