„Woh yes, wait a minute Mr. Postman“ – an observation of human behavior, anger and empathy, and the healing power of company

An observation of human behavior, anger, and empathy: Through the intercom (interphone) I didn’t understand what the postman was saying. So he repeated it but he was shouting! I felt angry and wondered why would he have to shout if I didn’t understand him only acoustically?

While he was on the way up I was thinking to say „You could have said that in a more calm way“ (in an instructive manner) but I neglected that thought and when he arrived I opened my door and said nothing – just did let the moment happen.

In fact, he asked whether I could take two parcels for a neighbor. „Sure“, I said. I’m happy to do so in general. After I had signed for my parcel I asked him whether there’s a lot to do. He responded: „Yes, even more than on Christmas. I had hoped it would be less in the new year.“ I made clear I understood what he was saying but didn’t say much after. Only when he was about to go I said „Keep it cool“ (in German: Ruhig Blut!) and I saw him reacting positively through his body language and a slight smile on his face.

Conclusion: I could have been mad and angry at him when he arrived at my door but instead I let the situation come, let it happen and then ask about his situation to express my willingness to empathize. That obviously cut the anger that he felt before because of feeling time- and work-stressed and that I felt because of his shouting. Also, time helps to cool down so the waiting time between the angry communication via the interphone and his arrival at the door was crucial for a positive outcome of the situation.

P.S. Ten minutes later another postman rang the bell saying in a calm voice „Schönen guten Tag, ein Paket für Sie“ (Good morning, I have a parcel for you). He arrived at my door, it was a young man. Compared to postman #1 he was not stressed at all. After a bit of back and forth, he confirmed the hope of less work after Christmas which was not the case as postman #1 said but he also said that having a colleague working with him (an older, more experienced postman) helped deal with stress more easily – like a relief.

So, conclusion #2: If you have someone you share your experience with you feel less stressed and calmer in general.

Also published on Medium.

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