How to Speak to an Angry Person

Coping With Angry People

An angry individual draws the attention of everyone in the room. Their anger become “a scene”. When you are the one confronted with this angry outburst, you may not know what to say or do. At this point, you are in damage control mode.

That’s a good way to cope with an angry person. Realize that you may not solve the problem right away, but you can make it that much worse. Limit the damage. Of course, help them resolve their anger issues if you can, but these aren’t going to be resolved if the person’s anger continues to escalate.

Of course, most of the time, the angry person is seeking attention. You might say they are demanding attention, because they have “had enough”. So if you cannot solve the problem, the next best thing you can do is give the person the attention they crave.

In a business setting, all of this is doubly bad. Perceived unprofessionalism or snarkiness will only make the person angrier. The very least a person (who might not feel respected and appreciated in “real life”) wants is to be similarly ignored when they are a customer. Showing them respect and attention should help defuse the situation, at least until someone can help them with their real problem.

1. Listen

How To Speak To An Angry PersonIf you can think of nothing to say, stay quiet and listen to the outburst. Sometimes an angry person needs no more of an outlet than a one-man audience. Let them rant and rave and get their anger out, and hopefully the person can move on. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but attentive silence is often the best way to cope with an angry person.

2. Stay Calm

Keep your anger under control. One of the two of you needs to keep a level head. If you get angry and frustrated, you won’t be able to communicate properly with the person.

3. Remain Polite

Once again, if you are rude to an angry person, this is going to make matters worse. Their anger might focus on you, instead. The point is to try to calm the person down and get at the root of their anger. You might be able to help them cope with the anger, at that point.

4. Figure Out The Situation

Try to ascertain why this person is angry. If the cause is one particular incident, try to help them resolve the problem. This should help defuse the situation by getting at the root cause of their anger.

If their anger is more general or long-lasting in nature, show understanding for their frustration. There is little you can do in finding a resolution, but empathy and understanding will go a long way to calming the person. Often, a person displaying this type of anger is looking for reassurance or sympathy.

5. Don’t Add Fuel the Fire

Sometimes a person’s anger will be irrational or unreasonable. Pointing this out to them will not work. By definition, an irrational person cannot be reasoned with. Try to comfort the person until they calm down. Then try to reason with them.

Patronizing an angry individual is counterproductive. If you are going to speak with a person about their issues, you must convey a sense of understanding. Patronizing the person is likely to make them angry again.

If a person is prone to chronic irrational anger, you should avoid this person. He or she needs professional help. In a moment of calmness, you might suggest talking with an appropriate counsellor or doctor. If you decide this will be received by an angry outburst, then there is little you can do for the person. Stay out of their life.

6. Do Not Take the Blame

While I am suggesting you should avoid provoking this person, I am not suggesting you back down or take the blame if you are accused wrongly. This reinforces the person’s irrational thought processes. Remain calm. Try to resolve the problem through care and understanding. But do not be the scapegoat.

Angry people often feel a sense of powerlessness. They might try to regain their sense of power by blaming or bullying others. It is senseless to be a target for an angry outburst. Eventually, this person can only resolve lingering issues by facing the truth and taking steps to rectify the existing problem. Ignoring this problem in any form gets the person further away from resolution.

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