Image by genvessel
First off a most important disclaimer: this DOES NOT apply to rage.
What do I mean by the difference between anger and rage? What I mean is that if someone is angry they can still be reasoned with. Someone who is enraged is past reasoning. This is most commonly seen in childrens’ temper tantrums. After a certain stage it is no longer possible to reason with the child. Normally we cope with this by putting them somewhere safe so that they can get it out and (hopefully) have a sleep afterwards. If you are dealing with an enraged adult, in my opinion, the best thing to do is to leave if you can.
In responding to anger I think there are two options: Stay calm or Get Angry. Both of these have worked in my experience.
1. Stay Calm.
A shouting match can achieve little. In this situation it can be useful to focus on the issues and listen to the other person. Let them know that you understand what they are saying and that you understand they are upset.
Especially when the anger has come from frustration it can help when the other person can stay rational. In this situation it is possible to say something like, “So, what you are angry about is. . . “, or, “What’s really upset you is . . . “. Getting clear on why we are angry can help.
It is also possible to consider solutions. Anger may begin as a reaction but can usually be channelled into making changes. For example, if someone is upset by the way someone has spoken to them it will be possible for them to consider alternatives: having nothing to do with that person, having someone to debrief with, or telling the person that their way of speaking to them is not acceptable.
2. Get Angry.
Sometimes calmness is just infuriating. It makes the anger worse. In this situation it is useful to ‘get angry’ too. Or, another way of saying it, let the person know that you can feel their intensity.
In this situation the angry person is looking for engagement. They want to know that you care. Perhaps, that you are upset by what was done to them, or that you feel bad about what you did (if they are angry with you).
Getting angry with the angry person can make the situation worse. It is worth saving this until you have tried the calming approach first. Then try a little bit of anger and see how it is received. If they respond well then a little more may not hurt. I have found that engaging the intensity of the other person has worked well when nothing else has.
I would like to hear your experiences of working with angry people in the comments. Let me hear your experiences on what has worked for you (and perhaps what hasn’t).
Sign up for my free health course: Designing a Long and Healthy Life. I also have a free weekly newsletter. To receive these leave a comment on my Newsletter page.
My free report, It’s Not About Success, is available on it’s own page.
If you have a topic you would like me to write about please let me know. Just leave a comment on this post about any topic you would like to see discussed. Looking forward to hearing from you.