When Other People Piss Me Off

  1. Values cards. Ask students to write down the thing(s) they really care about on a card. These things will be read out anonymously afterwards (unless they specifically state not to on the card). Do one of your own too. Gather the cards in and read them out.
  2. Examples of when people piss me off. Ask students to write down the things that other people do which piss them off.  Discuss whether there is a link between what we value most and what pisses us off most. (They should spot that being pissed off is usually the result of having your values transgressed).
  3. Moral foundations. Jonathan Haidt has come up with an interesting theory that there are 6 ‘moral foundations’ that are universal to humans. These are 6 areas of strongly held values or beliefs and each of us has our own unique profile. The 6 foundations are explained here. Knowing about these foundations can help students get an understanding of their own values and view of how the world should be, and help them to understand why they get annoyed.
  4. Play David Starkey/Laurie Penny video. This is an example of an iceberg situation; where there is something going on above the surface (Penny’s comments) which drills down into deeply held beliefs/values which are largely hidden, without us really realising and which provoke a strong reaction (Starkey’s poking). When our values are trampled on, this tends to provoke a strong emotional reaction which tells us just as much about the person reacting as the person causing the reaction. Being aware of our values (our beliefs usually held below the surface) can help us to understand and manage our strong emotional responses to situations in our lives. Who is to blame? Are the reactions proportional? What is really going on here? Why is there so much emotion present in an academic debate? What do David Starkey’s reactions tell us about his values? What about the other people in the clip?
  5. Reel ‘em in. This is designed to mimic the effect of being pulled in to an excessive reaction to a situation and help students develop internal resources for taking more control of how they respond. Ask for a student volunteer (A). Ask them to tie one end of a length of rope around their waist. Ask for 3 more volunteers (B,C,D) and ask them to take hold of the other end of the rope. Ask A to call to mind the situation where other people really piss them off and ask for 3 examples of thoughts they might have in that situation. Give one thought each to B, C and D and ask them to say them out loud. As they voice these thoughts, ask them to gently pull on the rope. Discuss with A what kind of reaction the 3 thoughts might be pulling them in to. Also, what might make the ‘pull on the rope’ stronger i.e. what circumstances might cause us to have a stronger emotional reaction (e.g. Starkey appears to have been drinking red wine). Now ask A what they could think or do to lessen the pull of these thoughts on them.
  6. Ask students to work in pairs/threes with their own examples of values and what annoys them (from their cards) and think through what they might do/think in these situations to manage the pull of a strong reaction.

Plenary and Prep. Play Fiat Palio advert. How can we apply our learning from this session to what we see the driver doing? What can we learn about the driver (and the cyclist) from his actions? When other people piss us off, is it always only their fault? Over next 2 weeks ask students to practice their strategies for managing iceberg situations and write about experiences. Students could also watch the London Riots in their words documentary and see if they can detect values and icebergs.