Some people will seem angry or upset about things you find ridiculous or trivial. It’s generally best to avoid directly stating this fact, because then you’ll be seen as part of the problem. It’s also entirely possible that you’ve misinterpreted what the person is upset about, or the person may have complained about a recent annoyance because it’s easier for them than talking about a deeper problem. If your friend or acquaintance is genuinely petty, they may set others against you if directly confronted.
One way of handling the situation is restating what’s upset the person, and asking if anything else is a problem. Like if your classmate says she’s furious that a video game release date has been pushed back a month, you might use this technique and find out that she pre-ordered and pre-paid for this game, and now can’t afford to go on a class field trip. Or you might find out that a different classmate isn’t absolutely crushed that Taco Tuesday in the cafeteria was cancelled due to a salsa shortage, but that his older brother just permanently moved to The North Pole to run a toy factory.
For general problem-sharing, if you’re female, and the person sharing the problem is also female, here are some socially-acceptable sample reactions:
· I’m so sorry... are you okay?
· Oh no, I can’t believe that! What happened next?
· How are you feeling about this?
· Considering all that, it sounds like you’re taking disappointment (or other emotion) so well.
· I know my feelings would be hurt, too, if I were in your place.
· That sounds really complicated... I’m amazed you’re doing so well.
· You’re very mature, to be able to handle this so well.
If you’re male, and the person sharing the problem is also male, here are some socially-acceptable sample reactions:
· (Shake head sadly) Anything I can do to help?
· That sucks!
· That’s no good....
· I’m sorry, man. You shouldn’t have to go through that.
· You deserve way better. (About a breakup or job loss.)
· Wow, I guess things have to look up for you after this, right?
· You’re right, I know what you mean...
· Geeze, man, I can’t believe it! (Shocked look on face.)