Be a Thermostat and Not a Thermometer: How to Cope When Someone Goes a Little Craaazy…

This past week, one of my clients had to have an uncomfortable conversation with a longtime friend who was interested in coming to work at her firm.

Although my client had no particular reason for thinking it might not work, she did have a gut-level presentiment that it would not go well. Following this instinct, she told her friend, “I’m sorry but I just don’t think it’s the right fit.”

At which point her friend had a fit.

As I said to my client, “Wow if anything was needed to back up your intuition that this could end badly, that was it.”

What my client was most pleased by, and what I was so impressed by, was that even as she was taking it in the face like a fire hose from her—let’s now say former—friend she never lost her equanimity.

She embodied one of my favorite expressions, “Be a Thermostat and Not a Thermometer.”

In other words, no matter how hot the person you’re speaking with gets, you stay at 68 degrees and sunny.

The story continued when, after verbally abusing my client in the moment, her former friend took her temper tantrum onto social media to complain bitterly about her perception of the unfairness of the situation.

Suffice to say, it was hard for my client to keep her 68-degree-and-sunny-setting when this happened but I am pleased – and again, so impressed—to report that she has kept her fingers off her keyboard…although it was, and still is so, so tempting to respond. 

And while I sincerely hope something like this never happens to you, should it occur it is fantastically helpful to have a trusted friend to whom you can send all the wonderful responses you long to send. For more on this see my post on how a gossip buddy can be a safety valve.

Because—at the end of the day—the person who keeps their equanimity, keeps their dignity.


P. S. For those of you who read the advice, I gave a few weeks ago to a questioner who was nervous about meeting her birth sister for the first time I’m so happy to report that she checked in and her meeting with her birth sister went very well! Also, the tools I offered for that meeting have been very useful in multiple other meetings she’s had over the past month.