How to deal with angry people
“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you”. Joel Osteen
How many times have you had to deal with an angry person? Anger is a universal emotion, and no matter what job you do, it is important to know how to deal with angry people calmly and assertively. More often than not, another person’s anger has nothing to do with you. When you recognize this, it can have a major influence on how you cope with the situation, and allow you to see the underlying cause, perhaps. A recent survey done found that when people understood that they didn’t cause another person’s anger, they weren’t upset by the situation.
Perhaps your workmate or friend received some difficult news that they cannot cope with, and is taking his/her negative feelings out on you; perhaps they feel overwhelmed by their workload or their personal life, or maybe someone aggravated them to the point of feeling angry with the world. When you recognize and understand this, you can remove yourself from the anger, and you’ll find it much easier to cope with it. If however, you are the cause of another person’s anger, it is important to take responsibility for your actions and apologise, and ask if you can do something to change things.
Sometimes anger comes from a variety of emotional places, of how they expected to treated, a workmate was annoyed because you are given the most prestigious jobs that they wanted, or a shopkeeper was upset because of a late payment?
It is easy to get upset when you are confronted with an angry person, so how you respond can easily make the situation worse. When you respond calmly and with empathy, and listen to what is being said, you can stay in control and you can defuse the situation in a professional, courteous way. If you can calm them down, you can break the anger from spiralling out of control that can eliminate the anger and give you an opportunity to solve the underlying problems that have caused the anger in the first place.
If you respond angrily to someone else’s anger, you can easily end up being seen as aggressive and adding to the problem. This is disastrous if you are in the wrong and caused this to happen. But if you respond calmly and in a low voice you can get rid of the stress and unhappiness that can build up in someone else’s emotions. When you respond calmly to angry people, you set a good example for others. How you deal with anger can inspire others around you, which can transform their ability to deal with anger. We all know the signs of normal anger. But some people can suppress the visible signs of anger but seethe with a burning rage under the surface. This can appear in quite subtle, “passive aggressive ” ways.
Passive-aggressive anger is common in the workplace, and signs of it include the following: Pretending not to hear or understand requests. Avoiding involvement, or giving you a wide berth. Spreading gossip or unfounded rumours, or telling hurtful jokes to retaliate. They can also become obsessive and start sulking or withdrawing from conversations. Engaging in self-defeating behaviours, or setting other workmates up for failure. Other forms of passive aggressiveness like behaving secretively, ignoring others or demonstrating an “angry smile” or smirking.
It is a useful skill to know how to calm angry people down. When you can defuse someone’s anger, it can enhance your standing as a calm and mature person, and it can help you deal with people who struggle to manage or control their emotions, especially in times of pressure.
It is only natural to get upset when angry people confront you, regardless of whether their anger is justified or not or directed at you or not. When you feel the brunt of anger it can lead you to become angry yourself. Do your best to respond calmly and intelligently when you face angry people. Learn how to manage your own response without emotion, so that you stay in control during upsetting interactions. If you feel yourself getting upset, excuse yourself from the conversation and take a break or go for a walk to calm down. Try to see things from their perspective as they express hurt feelings. Use active listening , so that you really listen to what she says.
When it’s your turn to talk, speak slowly and calmly, lower your voice as this will often encourage others to calm down. Show an interest in resolving the situation, and try not to judge the other person’s behaviour – this shows respect. Once you have understood the situation, try to avoid making excuses or defending your actions. Going on the defensive make others feel even angrier than they are already. Ask quietly what you can do to resolve the situation and change how they see things. People who experience intense levels of anger might be unwilling or unable to change how they see things, however, and you may annoy them further if you try to get them to focus on something else.
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You may work or live with a person who frequently experiences angry outbursts. If so, once the anger has passed, it is important to communicate how this person’s anger makes you feel. Be respectful but assertive with the other person, and use “I” statements to communicate how you feel. Start by finding the real cause of their anger by asking open-ended questions. Try not to get angry yourself. Stay calm, speak slowly. A calm, rational response can go a long ways toward calming angry people down.
Peg Hanafin, MSc. 19/4/2018 wp