Today’s post is dedicated to any of you who’ve ever felt vulnerable or even attacked.
Anger is such powerful emotion. And while it’s normal to display anger, ongoing uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships. Unresolved anger destroys marriages, families, and weakens communities. It’s linked to major health problems and diminishes productivity in organizations.
Plain and simple when someone attacks you this is everything to do about them and has very little to do with you.
Remembering that is half the battle.
Here are some tips for negotiating with an angry person:
1. Listen to them and show empathy and interest in their concerns. A successful approach in dealing with angry people is to ask short questions and get them to talk through what’s bothering them. “What happened? Why do you feel that way?” Be careful though. There’s a difference between someone occasionally displaying anger and those who are chronically angry. Chronically angry people generally display patterns of ongoing unhappiness and may seem impossible to reach.
2. Take the higher ground by establishing common ground. This about finding a bond and leveraging it to diffuse and begin problem solving. Madeline Albright, a mentor of mine says it well: “No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”
3. Laugh if you can. Humor is a great way to break the tension. It’s not always useful but it can sometimes help diffuse an angry person or social situation.
4. Do nothing. If you can’t or don’t feel comfortable managing an angry person, it’s best to do nothing. Leaving the situation and finding a more healthy environment is sometimes the answer.
But no matter what, show compassion for ‘the angry’. Realize they are more vulnerable than you are.
Anger is often the result of painful self judgment. People with anger problems often have simple explanations for their problems – they believe that other people cause their emotional upsets. Until resolved, the anger manifests into more pain and vulnerability.
So for the truly vulnerable, I say, love them. Pray for them.
This post is a part of the ABC Series.