Control Your Temper Around Rude People By Finding Their ‘Pin’

When you’re surrounded by jerks, it’s hard to keep from turning into one yourself. To stay calm in the face of someone else’s tantrum, find their “pin”.

This video from the School of Life discusses something we’ve written about before: Dealing with rude people and not letting them change your own attitude and behaviour. The video brings up an interesting concept from the French philosopher Emile-Auguste Chartier:

He developed a formula for calming himself and his pupils down in the face of irritating people. “Never say that people are evil,” he wrote, “you just need to look for the pin.” What he meant was look for the source of the agony that drives a person to behave in appalling ways. The calming thought is to imagine that they’re suffering off stage in some area we can’t see. To be mature is to learn to imagine this zone of pain in spite of the lack of much available evidence.

You don’t want to be a pushover either, of course. The idea isn’t to make excuses for someone’s bad behaviour or allow them to walk all over you. The idea is to just understand that there’s likely a reason for their rude behaviour, and you can use that sympathy to keep yourself from getting angry and rude, too.

You can find more detail about Chartier’s “pin” here, and watch the rest of the video above or head to the link below.

How to Remain Calm With People [The School of Life (YouTube)]


  • That video was the view of a philosopher who lived before cognitive neuroscience, and was wrong.

    The correct answer is that when you reward the behavior of arseholes, their behavior will become worse.

    • You’ve never had a bad day and been a bit short with someone who didn’t deserve it?
      You’ve never had a partner or family member act like a jerk and when you say something they say “Sorry, it’s not your fault. I’m just tired/sick/stressed/whatever”?

      People often act out the same way as a child when they are upset.

      • I completely agree not to reward such negative behaviour, but I agree with @pokedad , a bit of compassion/empathy goes a long way. While it is not reasonable to redirect their emotions to those who don’t deserve it, it makes their actions somewhat easier to swallow.

        • Ok then:

          Everyone has at one time or another lashed out at people who don’t deserve it. Meeting them with hostility won’t help anyone. That doesn’t mean you are rewarding bad behaviour. I spend 12 hours a day talking to people in highly stressful situations. They are often incredibly rude. Calmly pointing out to them that I am not the cause and that I’m here to help makes the vast majority of people stop dead in their tracks. Most of them apologise and change tone immediately.

          You say the philosopher was wrong and perhaps he was. But you are working on a binary that doesn’t exist. You are also wrong. The opposite of hostility is not reward and there are more than two options in most situations where you deal with hostile people.

          • 1: You claim that a hostile response ‘won’t help anyone’, but you and I both know that’s not a universal, so I’m confused you said it.

            2: Empathy is a reward, to the overwhelming majority of human brains.

            3: Playing an anti-social strategy and getting forgiven, is a reward. Basic game theory.

            4: If you wish to accuse me of a false dichotomy, you should explain what that false dichotomy is. I get the impression that you think I’m categorizing all responses as “Hostile” or “Reward”. But I never used the term “Hostile”, nor any synonym. “Reward” and “Not Reward” *is* a dichotomy, but it’s definition-ally a *true* dichotomy…

          • You believe that humans do not deserve empathy or respect until it is earned.
            You reduce all human interaction into transactional reward systems.

            I’m done talking to you.

          • Your claims about my beliefs are so left-field that I can only conclude your anger is not about me!

            Does the following resemble your position?:

            1: Your employer’s rules disempower you from dealing with hostile clients as equals.

            2: You’ve developed the only strategy available. You aim to engender mercy by attempting to inspire guilt.

            3: You try to cope by framing your abjection as virtuous.

            4: Your framing is tissue-thin, so in our conversation you’ve been reduced to tearful accusations and a desperate grab for a mirage of the moral high-ground.

            If so, I have sympathy with your terrible abjection. But that doesn’t change the fact that by teaching people that an anti-social strategy is a winning strategy you’re genuinely making the world worse.

          • I broke my “not talking to you anymore” rule to tell you that this is some pretty amazing stuff. Like, A++.
            I’m legitimately impressed at this troll effort.

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