When someone is angry–especially when you are faced with an angry, relentlessly difficult person–always remember that the angrier they are, the more brain-dead they are.
(Well, not really brain-dead, but when someone is angry, s/he is incapable of thinking straight, that’s for sure.)
It’s a simple matter of body chemistry and physiology. The angrier you become, the less blood there is in your brain. Therefore, you cannot think straight. Strangely enough, angry people absolutely believe that they are right, accurate, and entitled…and plenty righteous about it, too.
So, what can you do in the face of anger coming at you? (First thing – join my closed Facebook group: Optimize Life)
What I’m going to tell you takes practice. In other words, you’re not likely to master it by reading this. But, each time you remember these three things, you’ll come closer to putting them into practice right there in the ugly face of anger coming at you.
Why is it so hard to remember? Because, right from when you were a small child, anger coming at you was scary. It put you into a stress response. You shut down some, and you couldn’t think as clearly as usual. And, that’s likely just the same now. Most of us are not great fans of being yelled at, demeaned, degraded, or blamed. That’s a good thing! (People who enjoy being on the receiving end of anger have a host of other unhappy problems that I won’t talk about today.)
When someone is angry–and a little brain-dead–the last thing you want to do is jump in and be that way, too. That’s when everything goes sideways, and no one feels heard.
Becoming defensive does not work, either. I’m sure you’ve noticed that. So, these three things I’m sharing with you will help you to empower yourself to focus on the other person, even when you’d most like to scream and jump up and down on their heads.
So important: Take charge of you first.
In order to manage anger either coming at you, you have to take charge of you…and your body. So, here’s how:
- Breathe deeply. When you hear anger, see it, or feel it, first get ready. Focus on yourself, not the other person. Breathe deeply to keep your brain fully oxygenated so you can think clearly. Take at least three deep breaths in through your nose. Let them out slowly through your mouth as you listen to the upset coming at you. The other person won’t notice, and deep breathing will do you a world of good.
- Respond to the other person’s energy, by energetically saying: “Wow! You’re really upset.” or “I get that you really want me to understand something. I’m listening. You’ve got my attention.” By doing this, you reduce their need to escalate to get your attention. You’re giving it to them. Be genuine and focus on them. They are not thinking straight, so don’t jump in to that muddle.
- Listen to their words. Do not focus on their volume, body language, tone of voice, or intensity. If you are unsafe physically, you will recognize that right away, and take appropriate action, so don’t worry about that. Listen to their words, and see what their underlying message is. Respond to that with with a validating question: “You are really upset about _____________.” Usually, when someone realizes that you’re actually listening, their energy recedes a little…at least. We all need to be validated. Most people do not get enough of that.
When you actively respond to someone’s anger in these ways, they will recognize that you care. You’re engaged with them in their pain. You’re not being defensive. That might be a big change in the dynamics right there.
You can empower yourself to respond in positive ways. If the other person can settle down, s/he will. Just don’t go joining them in their brain-dead eruption. Two people incapable of thinking straight will never come to a workable solution for anything. Be the sane one.
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD If you are with someone who is constantly erupting in anger, you may be with a Hijackal, a relentlessly difficult person. If you think you may be with a Hijackal, find out for sure by reading my free ebook, How To Spot A Hijackal, Hijackals.com Want insights, support & help? Join my closed Facebook group, Optimize Life! for answers to your specific questions on how to handle Hijackals.