When we are faced with anger from another person it can have a huge impact on how we think and feel. Anger is a very powerful emotion that almost all of us fear we may one day lose control. To learn to deal with it in other people is to learn to control it within ourselves.
Use Positive Self Talk
There are things that you can say to yourself quietly in your mind when faced with another person's anger. This kind of talk is called self talk. The most important person you will talk to every day is yourself. It is from this talk that you can begin to take charge of your physical and emotional responses. Here are some examples to start with:
- ‘When someone gets angry, I get calm'
- ‘Anger is just a temporary state of insanity - it will pass'
- ‘I wonder what this person is angry about'
- ‘I choose to respond calmly no matter how angry you get'
- ‘I can choose to walk away if I feel uncomfortable or afraid'
- ‘I am responsible for my own feelings and I can choose to
respond instead of reacting'
Keep this list with you, and if you like add some of your own positive statements. Choose the one that you most relate to and then affirm it to yourself every day for 5 minutes. Don't be discouraged if you forget your positive statement the first few times. Just continue to memorize it and repeat it constantly especially of you know you are going to face an angry person.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
When someone is angry, they have powerful emotions fueling their thoughts and actions. Typically, someone who is angry doesn't feel loved or understood. During their moments of anger they become irrational and illogical because these feelings overwhelm the logical mind. The fastest way to diffuse these feelings is to not judge them in another. To do this, you must also be comfortable to face your own anger.
Use statements such as:
‘You seem to be very annoyed. '
‘I understand that you are angry. '
When you use statements like these try to speak in a calm, sincere and assertive tone, despite how much you might want to criticize them.
Listen First, Ask Questions Later
Most angry people just want to be heard. The key to diffusing their anger is to simply acknowledge what they are saying without trying to judge or change it. The moment that you negate or oppose what they are saying you're adding fuel to the fire. The key to overcome this is to repeat back some of the main points or comments that have been made such as: ‘So what you are saying is that you don't like it when…’ ‘Ok, I understand that you don't like to be woken up by the neighbor's dog'
Check Your Body Language
When you find yourself in an angry situation, do your best to match the position of your body with the other person. If they are standing up and talking down to you, then change your body position by standing up also. Always keep in mind that safety comes first. Never allow anyone to encroach upon your personal space. Always keep a safe distance between you so there are no ‘accidents’. If this means keeping yourself close to exit, then do so. The other option is to keep a piece of furniture between you and the other person.
By matching the body language of the other person it allows for a more non-threatening experience for both. Try not to ask any questions until after the angry person has finished their outburst. That way neither of you need to get frustrated by unsatisfactory answers.
Share Your Own Feelings
This can be a great diffuser of tension and help you to take back control of the situation. This is especially true if the other person is normally even tempered. The strategy here is to use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’ statements.
The reasoning behind this is that you are then taking responsibility for your own emotions and not trying to blame them for how you feel. Blaming or accusing others for how you feel in any situation will always lead to a breakdown in communication. Here are some examples: - ‘I feel angry when you shout at me like that’. (Instead of, - ‘You make me so angry when you yell. ')
- ‘I feel scared when you lose control of your temper’.
(Instead of, You are scaring me’. )
- ‘I'm so upset right now that I don't know what to think or
say’. (Instead of, You are making me so upset that I don't
know what I might do’. )
Michael Atma is an internationally known author, speaker & success coach. Known as the person to talk to when you're ready to enjoy massive results, Michael offers simple yet proven strategies to improve the quality of your life in just minutes. Michael's writing comes straight from the front line of good health and successful living
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