Dealing with angry people in our society is becoming increasingly challenging. Some days, it seems anger surrounds us at home, in the workplace, on the roadways. It is easy to get caught up in an escalating spiral of angry exchanges which usually upsets everyone and does nothing to improve communication or solve the problem at hand.
Here are eight tips to be taken seriously:
1. Do not add “fuel to the fire” by responding in kind.
Please remember that in hostile situations, you contribute somewhat to the outcome by your decision to return hostility or not.
2.Take their upset seriously and validate their feelings.
Listen to what they have to say and hear them out; ignoring them or minimizing their feelings will tend to escalate their anger further. There have been untold numbers of workplace violence incidents that could have been averted had supervisors or managers listened with empathy to disgruntled employees rather than responding in an insensitive, or uncaring manner.
3.Never argue with someone when they are intoxicated.
When someone is drinking or intoxicated, this is no time to try to solve relationship or other problems (especially if you too have had a few drinks). A high percentage of angry confrontations as well spousal abusr, emotionally-verbally or physically occur when drinking is involved by one or both partners. Drinking often impairs judgment, decreases inhibitions (resulting in saying things we don’t mean), and may distort your reasoning ability.
4.Respond to the feelings they are having- not the content of what they are saying.
Try to hear and respond to the underlying hurt or pain the person is experiencing underneath the angry words. Use statements such as “I can appreciate why you feel that way,” “It sounds like you are very angry right now,” “Many people feel the way you do.”
5.On roadway, ignore aggressive drivers and stay out of their way. Do not make eye contact; this is the secret signal in the animal world to engage in combat and will frequently escalate things, sometimes into “road rage.”
6.Allow angry people to physically escape the situation.
You may be putting yourself in a dangerous situation if you try to block their way… Don’t insist on solving the problem “now” when the other person is in an agitated state.
7.Don’t defend yourself by attacking back at them or their character flaws.
One of the predictors of divorce is being defensive, according to recent marital research. There is a time to present your side, but not when your partner is unable to hear it due to his or her anger.
8.Don’t try to solve an emotional issue with logical arguments.
This usually makes the situation worse.
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Eileen Lichtenstein, MS. Ed. and CEO www.balanceandpower.com is a Certified Anger Management Specialist