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When it comes to stressful people they can come in all shapes and sizes. They also can have a variety of strategies when being stressful. Some people do not realize how they come across and others do and do not seem to care. Certain personalities may be easier to figure out when they are working toward manipulating, controlling, narcissism, using others or other ways that can be very stressful to deal with.

The thing is, in the fire service you can’t just walk away from some of these scenarios and if you do not learn how to deal with these situations and personalities then stress can set in. When this happens it can affect your health, happiness, relationships, your career, creativity and peace of mind. That is why I believe that it can be helpful to address these situations quickly and in a way that can benefit you and the one you are talking with.  

Here are some tips that I have learned over the years:

Use “I” phrases – When I was in school working toward my associates’ degree of applied science in mental health I learned different ways to communicate more effectively with others. Beginning a sentence with “I feel” or “I think” and so on instead of “you ……….” can help others to feel more comfortable in hearing what you are saying. Many times when people begin a conversation with “you” it can put the person receiving the input on the defense, even if that was not your intention.  

Set Boundaries – Setting boundaries can be a good way to let others know their limits and your expectations. Obviously, if you are given a direct order from a higher ranking officer then you should follow the orders to the best of your ability. There is no escaping what you are duty bound to do. When it comes to setting boundaries I am referring to interpersonal relationships. Creating a list of what is expected and making sure everyone involved receives a copy or organizing meetings to talk about what needs to be accomplished are a couple of ways to communicate the boundaries you are setting. This can be helpful for your crew, friends, and at home to let your children know what they are allowed to do and what they need to avoid.

Be Direct – This may feel uncomfortable. I have found that when I am not direct and completely upfront by spelling everything out that there are certain people who will try to find loop holes so they can take advantage of the situation. Being direct helps people to know what to expect without the guess work or waiting to find out what is next.

I have said many times when I talk with clients and write articles, that there are no guarantees and there are no exact methods that can promise the outcome when carefully dealing with people who can be stressful will turn out good. Everyone has choices to make and some people may not want what is best for everyone. I still feel that it is important because when you think about it, the one person you cannot ever get away from is you. I believe when you create healthy boundaries and communicate with others in a kind and direct manner is a way to not only show respect for others but it is also a way you show respect for yourself. 


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