Dealing with Angry People

How to deal with angry or hostile people.

1. Don’t take things personally. Anger is about the angry person not you. So keep your composure.

2. Mitigate hostility in your life. Hostility and anger may cause you to lose vitality and to shut down.

3. Defensiveness weakens you.
When you over-react or cringe, you show fear, which empowers the angry person. You may need more boundaries, but try not to show weakness by losing control or being defensive.

4. Repression causes depression. Repressing important desires and needs leads to a lack of personal power, irritability, angry outbursts, and sometimes depression. So it is important to be able speak up for yourself.

5. Attacking back backfires. Avoid name-calling and negative judgments, which only furthers the hostility.

6. Remain calm. If you feel heated, postpone discussing the problem until you feel calm.

7. Look beneath the anger. Often underlying the other person’s anger is fear and vulnerability. Anger is the way many people compensate for their vulnerable feelings. The moment you can see that vulnerability, you will probably gain compassion for that person, and as a result, feel less defensive.

8. Express compassion. If you can, try to address the hostile person’s frame of mind before responding with your own ideas and feelings. Sometimes the hostile person simply needs a bit of compassion in order to become calm and reasonable again.

9. Maintain self-respect. If you remain calm and reasonable without taking things personally, you are more likely to get the other person to treat you with respect.

10. Limit negative relationships. Limit or eliminate relationships with people who are negative, angry or hostile on an ongoing basis.

In conclusion, you will be more effective in dealing with angry people if you remember their anger is about the way they express their own uncomfortable feelings. By remaining calm and reasonable, you are most likely to turn a conflict into a product discussion.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Dealing with Angry People.”

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