DEALING WITH ANGRY PEOPLE
TO BEGIN WITH…
THE BIGGER THEY ARE…THE HARDER THEY HIT.
NEVER HIT A MAN WHEN HE IS DOWN…HE MAY GET BACK UP AGAIN.
IF YOU CAN’T SPEAK SOFTLY…JUST USE THE STICK.
DEALING WITH ANGRY PEOPLE
By Lou Goldstein
Anger is usually rational and means a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence caused by a perceived wrong.
Anger can be managed, controlled and disputes can be dealt with. So how do we do this?
WE CANNOT CONTROL THE BAD THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO US...BUT WE CAN CONTROL THE WAY WE HANDLE THEM
To begin with we need to understand what causes anger.
Anger is an emotion that is natural and real. It is usually instigated by a fear that is either real or perceived. When you sense a threat your mind generates fear and anger. Anger is that force of energy that we project to “fight back” the threat.
When we are confronted by an angry person our first reaction is to fight fire with fire and fight back. This is not at all productive so we must have the presence of mind and the fortitude to remain calm and wait until the “angry” person begins to run out of steam.
Our first objective is to find out the cause of the anger. Let’s say the “angry person is a man. If you know him call him by his name and ask him to repeat his concern. If you don’t know him ask him for his name and ask him to repeat his concern.
Let’s name our person “John” .Then, repeat his concern back to him and confirm again that is what his anger is directed at. Now, tell him “John, I understand how you feel.” Then go on to say, “What can we do to resolve this.”
Here is where it can get tricky. If the response is still angry and belligerent, you can, at this point, speak sternly and ask him to settle down. “John, let’s calm down. We really can’t solve this problem until we both discuss it in a peaceful manner.”
If the problem does not need to be solved or resolved immediately it might be a good idea to step away from it for a short while (just like you did with the irrational person). You can assure John that you do want to resolve this and ask him if it would be OK if you gave this some thought and got back to him.
Before you can get back to John… you must now evaluate the problem and determine why he is angry. Is the anger justified? Does he have a valid point to make? Are you in danger of being harmed? Is this battle worth fighting over?
No matter whether the issue is addressed at the moment or at a later time your goal is to resolve the problem so you can return to your normal safe and pleasant world. That of course assumes that is what your world is.
There are some basic tenets of behavior that you should strive for.
In addition to maintaining a calm and soft tone of voice you should always be respectful even if the other party is being disrespectful to you. Don’t let them drag you into the pot of negativity they are generating. If they persist in being unfriendly….you persist in maintaining your friendliness. It’s difficult for a person to get upset with someone for being friendly but it is easy to fight with someone who is “fighting back.”
PERSERVERANCE IS NOT A LONG RACE ...IT’S MANY SHORT RACES… ONE AFTER ANOTHER
If possible try to inject some humor into the mix. A smile and laughter actually reduces the amount of stress hormones in our body. Use John’s name whenever possible during your discussion.
The use of his name works very well if you have just met him because it changes the relationship from an unknown nameless person to more of a personal discussion.
Try to understand his point of view. Understand that most people (probably even you) are mainly concerned with their own wants and needs… especially when they are angry. They are interested in their concerns…not yours. If your approach is to present YOUR point of view and what is important to YOU …you are not going to get anything constructively accomplished.
A LONG DISPUTE MEANS THAT BOTH PARTIES ARE WRONG
Understand this, put yourself in John’s place and direct the discussion to what is important to HIM.
By putting yourself in his place it makes it easier for you to arrive at a logical explanation for why he is acting the way he is… and understanding his motives.
Show that you are interested in his point of view by asking questions. The more questions you ask the more information you will find out. The more information you find out the easier it will become to find a solution or compromise to the problem. Demonstrate to John that you understand his point of view by telling him what you think it is… and showing your concern.
Don’t worry if you guess wrong because he will let you know. Keep working on it by asking more questions and continue to clarify until John actually does feel that you understand his point of view.
At this point “YOU APPROACH THE SITUATION FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW.”
Thisdoesn’t mean you are giving up on what you want… it merely means that you are now going to attempt to influence the outcome of the problem from John’s point of view…not yours.
You are doing it by cooperation not opposition. Now you can start saying things that you know that John will agree with… and say “yes” to.
After a series of such statements if you suggest something that is a little off the beaten path of how you were previously thinking … he might be more inclined to consider and even might accept.
Once you reach a common ground with each other it is easier to achieve a“common goal”. To help you get to that common ground use the most important word…”but”. Let him know that he has made an excellent point. “John, that point you made about the extra expense was a very valid and excellent point…BUT … have you considered the extra benefits we would receive?” …or… “John, you were absolutely right to get upset about what was said to you…BUT ….is it possible that it was misunderstood ?” …or… “John, I can understand that what I said to you could have been interpreted by you to be out of line and maybe even hurtful…BUT… would it help solve our problem if I apologized to you and told you that I didn’t mean it that way?” etc. etc.
Now here is a unique concept about reading this chapter (this part is what is called an author’s side comment. It is a sudden flash of inspirational thought that needs to be communicated). Here goes.
Instead of just “reading” this chapter… actually “do something” about what you are reading.
There is some good stuff here that can change or, at least,improve your abilities to understand people… which in turn … benefits you in many ways. So, how do you “do something ?”
You have already taken stock of your strengths and weaknesses. You have been writing in your journal ideas of how you can improve your strengths and diminish your weaknesses. YOU HAVE, HAVEN’T YOU? If not, you can begin “doing something” by backtracking and make the effort to take this important step. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
OK, now how do you “do something ?” You already have and you just need to continue “doing something” as you go on improving your strengths and diminishing your weaknesses.
See you next time,