How Do You Deal With Angry People?

Like most things, how you respond to another person’s anger is probably different depending upon your relationship with them and the circumstance. At the same time, you’ll probably recognize some patterns in how you deal with anger

Do you shut down, clam up, and hope they’ll go away? Do you puff up and try to out-bluster them? Do you start explaining, apologizing, or simply flee the scene?

If any of this sound like you, then you’re probably missing the two most important parts of dealing effectively with someone else’s anger, whether it’s a minor upset or full-blown rage.

First, you’ve probably heard someone say, “They are angry at me.” or “I made them angry.” This is the first fundamental mistake most people make when dealing with anger. They falsely believe that someone else can be angry “with them” or that they “can cause” another person’s anger.

The truth is, another person’s upset, anger, or even rage is never ever about you. It is always about how scared the other person is about whether or not they’re going to get something they value, keep something they value, or lose something they value. In other words, it’s always about them and what they value. Always.

Stop Taking It Personally!

When you realize this you can begin to stop taking other people’s anger personally. And this gives you the freedom to really get underneath their anger and create practical, effective solutions that get to the heart of the matter.

Beth and I co-authored an article about this topic that appeared in this month’s issue (Sept. ’08) of the eNewsletter. You can read more about this idea of “not taking it personally” there. But I wanted to expand a little bit on one of the points that we made in that article.

And that’s the second most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with anger. And that’s to apply your sharply focused attention on separating the “stimulus” for anger from the “clause” of anger. I say “sharply focused attention” because this is no simple task to separate stimulus from cause, a specially given most people’s lack of experience or training in distinguishing between the two.

Separating Stimulus from Cause

Take the two statements I used as examples above. Both of these statements imply that the stimulus and cause of the other person’s anger is the person making the statement. In fact, it must’ve been something the person said or did, didn’t say, or didn’t do that stimulated this anger reaction in the other person.

But even if you plug in these facts, the statements still do not get to the root of the anger. “Bill is angry because I didn’t return his phone call” “Mary is angry because I didn’t pick her up at the airport on time.” Again, these actions or inactions are only the stimulus for Bill’s and Mary’s anger.

At the root of the anger is their belief that they’re not getting something they value. In this case it might be something like consideration, predictability, or caring. So if you can apply your sharply focused attention to determining what it is that Bill and Mary might value that’s missing for them, you’re much more likely to begin to have a conversation with them about how important those things are to them and how they might be able to get them in the future.

Not Getting What You Want Never Makes You Angry

But even given all that, it’s important to realize that the bills and Mary’s anger is not caused by the fact they are not getting something that is important to them.

So what is the cause? Both Bill and Mary are afflicted with “should” thinking and have adopted the strategy of “being angry” as the best way to get other people to do what they “should” do.

What is “Should Thinking” you ask? Well, that’s the subject of another post.

Until then, I am committed to your success,
Neill Gibson

Don’t Compromise, Negotiate!

Want more than you’re getting?

Are you tired of [tag-tec]making compromises[/tag-tec] about the things you really want in life? Have you ever noticed that when people strike a compromise, nobody gets what they want?

What if there were a way to agree on a solution where everyone could benefit?

When you have a difference of opinion with someone, it may seem that the easiest way to resolve the problem is to agree on a compromise. Both parties express what they want and then discuss how much each person needs to give up in order to reach an agreement. Compromise is based on the perception that there isn’t enough of something to go around, so you need to get as much as you can for yourself.

Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another–too often ending in the loss of both.” ~ Tryon Edwards

At the other end of the spectrum is negotiation. Negotiation is based on the belief that this is an abundant universe where there is more than enough for everyone. Creating solutions that everyone will be happy with is possible when you have a commitment to continue negotiating until everyone is completely satisfied.

[tag-tec]The Art of Negotiation[/tag-tec]

Rather than giving up on something you want, perfecting the art of negotiation allows you to initiate discussions that open the door to new and exciting possibilities for mutual satisfaction. Once you believe that it’s possible for everyone to be satisfied–and that no compromise is necessary–you’ll have the confidence to stick with the process until it works.

Guess Why I’m Angry?

Do Angry People Make You Angry?anger

Do you ever wonder why angry people don’t take some sort of anger management class? Do you feel tired when you have to deal with angry people? If you’re like most of us, dealing with angry people probably makes you feel somewhat angry yourself.

When you listen to people venting constantly, one of two things is likely to happen. Either you withdraw because it’s too stressful to listen to, or you end up becoming frustrated inside and this makes you appear as angry on the outside.

It’s important you realize that another person’s anger doesn’t have to make you angry. Their anger is not about you. When someone is angry, it’s because they are not getting what they want. So don’t take it personally.

Guess Why I’m Angry?

While it’s best to avoid taking another person’s anger personally, you might be the trigger for their anger somehow, and it can be helpful to figure out what their angers about–what’s going on for them under the surface. Again, you are not the cause of their anger, but if you can guess why the other person is feeling that way, then you might be able to take action to help improve the situation.

How do you guess the reason for another person’s anger? Examine their needs and values-either directly, by asking them, or indirectly, by thinking about what may be driving those negative feelings. Everything a person does is driven by their needs and values.

Anger Might Equal Opportunity

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” ~ Malcolm X

Once you understand that everything truly comes down to needs and values, you can just guess about why another person is angry. And, in doing so, you will feel more relaxed and be better able to stop taking things personally, because their anger is really not about you.

Related Anger Management Resources

Michele Borba: Anger Management Tips for Kids | Dr. Michele … – Dr. Michele Borba share her secrets for discipline problems, behavior troubles, school issues and much more! Parenting advice, tips, and articles for raising happy, healthy children from conception to graduation.

If you were an employer, would you hire yourself? : Advantages of … – Anger Management ala George Anderson. Presented by Anderson and Anderson-Global leader in anger management training and certification. If you were an employer, would you hire yourself? : Advantages of Executive Coaching …

Anger Management with Yoga Therapy – Potent yogic technique to help you release and be free of your anger and frustration. Illustrations and practice detailed included.

The Power of WE

Got[tag-tec] Conflict Management?[/tag-tec]

Do you ever find that you avoid [tag-tec]working something out with someone [/tag-tec] because you fear that just bringing it up may start an argument?

To overcome this fear the first thing you need to do is avoid having an “Us vs. Them” mentality. That’s easier said than done, because this pattern of thinking is extremely common in our culture. We are trained not to trust people from a very young age: “don’t talk to strangers,” “look out for number one,” and we should “always come out on top.”

This competitive mindset impedes our ability to develop cooperative and effective relationships.

Now is the Timecooperation

Creating cooperative relationships that are focused on the power of a “We” mentality can only happen when we are able to establish alignment with others. This involves clearly identifying our own intentions and being able to determine the intentions of others. Only when you have this information can you work toward developing alignment of purpose and reliable agreements that will help improve the relationship.

Feel the WE

A shared vision of success is critical for resolving any relationship issue. Are there similar things that you both hope to achieve? Start there, and work toward “getting on the same page” as your relationship partner. From the perspective of shared goals it is much easier to appreciate the power of working together, the true power of “We.”

“Power consists in one’s capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.” ~ Woodrow Wilson

Once you experience alignment, you will know the power of the “We” mentality and why it will bring you far greater satisfaction in all your relationships.

How to Handle Criticism Without Melting Down, Clamming Up or Flipping Out

Do You Know Any [tag-tec]Difficult People[/tag-tec]?

Is it challenging for you to stay calm and present in the face of [tag-tec]critical people[/tag-tec]–you know those people that have something to say and can’t say it without raising their voice and trying to convince you that you’ve done something wrong.

Would you like to have options other than cringing, heading for the hills, or yelling back to defend yourself? If so, there are two places to look whenever you find yourself reacting in these ways: In Here and Out There.

What’s Going on “In Here?”

The space between your ears is the first place to look whenever you start experiencing discomfort in any situation. It’s where you’ll find the beliefs that are at the root of the problems you think are happening “out there.”

Have you ever seen someone parasurfing–using a small parasail to pull themselves across the waves on their surfboard? Your thoughts are like the parasail in the wind, the wind and surf is what’s going on “out there.”Kiteboarder

If you don’t know how to control the parasail, it’s unlikely that you’ll keep your balance, let alone control where you’re headed. And balance is critical if you want to gain control of yourself and the situation when someone is flipping out.

Falling – Then Catching Yourself – Then Falling – Then. . .

Imagine standing on the surfboard, perfectly balanced, with no force being applied to you, the surfboard or the parasail. Very Zen-like, but you’re not going anywhere are you?

The fun starts when the wind catches the parasail and you feel the drag of the water under the board. In that instance you’re falling forward–and unless you regain your balance quickly, you’re headed for a wipe out.

But then the wind shifts, the waves rise and you’re starting to fall again, and then you regain your balance, and then you’re falling, and then. . .

Keeping Your Balance

To maintain your emotional balance in the face of strong criticism, two things are essential. First, you need to recognize the moment that you start feeling discomfort of any sort. Second, you need to have the skills necessary to regain your emotional balance in a split second.

The first part–recognizing the moment you start feeling discomfort–is actually harder than it may sound.

In studies to prevent police violence, when officers were questioned closely, they recognized that there were typically five verbal exchanges that preceded violence.

Yet these highly trained individuals weren’t even conscious of these exchanges until they were probed. Once they recognized this they saw that the violence may have been avoided if any one of these exchanges had been handled a little bit differently.

Like these officers, you have an emotional guidance system that is highly tuned to alert you to the first moment that things are getting out of balance. And your emotions are much like the control lines on the parasail.

It’s by learning to accurately respond to the way you feel–the lines–that you gain control of your thinking–the parasail. This is how you keep your balance and control the direction the situation is heading.

Controlling What’s Happening Out There

Unfortunately, very few of us are trained how to use our emotional guidance system, how it relates to our thinking, or how emotions and thinking control our behavior.

It seems most of us grow up believing that we’re being dragged through life–into and out of one situation after another–helpless to do anything but hang on and hope for the best.

Or even worse: we’ve been misguided about what the control lines are and how to use them to control the parasail. Instead, we’ve learned that being “emotional” is a “bad thing,” “the best defense is a good offence,” “it’s a dog-eat-dog world,” and countless other beliefs that teach us to react rather than respond.

This leads us back to the second part–having the skills you need to regain your emotional balance in a split second. This is essentially the same as learning to control the parasail in the wind. It’s learning to consciously choose the beliefs that govern your thoughts, which often requires you to un-learn prior beliefs.

This is the process of developing what we call your Values Intelligence–your ability to know and apply what you value, regardless of your circumstance.

Without these skills–like the police officers we mentioned–it is unlikely you’ll recognize when things are going wrong, or be able to respond soon enough to prevent minor upsets from escalating into serious problems.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can develop your Values Intelligence take a look at our article:

And if your ready to do whatever it takes to stop melting down, clamming up, or flipping out, then enroll in The Art of Conscious Connection Online eCourse. It’s specifically designed to give you the In Here skills you need to start gaining more control over the direction of what’s happening Out There.

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