• Quote of the Day
    "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
    Nelson Mandela, posted by Daniel
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I've looked for articles about how to deal with someone else's anger and I'm not having much luck.

How can you help someone who seems to be chronically angry?

For example, you're riding in a car with this person and they get extremely upset at the car in front of them because it is going too slow so this leads to unsafe driving, well, in my opinion anyway.

Or lots of little things, like being out of a certain type of food. Or someone they're trying to call isn't home.

I don't know if this even makes any sense.

Can you help someone like this? Or is trying to protect yourself from the anger the best thing to do?
 
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Here is one article that I found. Not exactly what I was looking for, but maybe it will be helpful to someone else. :)

From Idaho Education Association

Handling Other's Anger

Dealing with our own anger is one thing. But how do we deal with others' anger? When anger is directed toward us, what steps can we take to defuse a tense situation? Colorado Extension Specialist Robert Fetsch provides helpful hints in his publication, "Dealing With Others' Anger."

When confronted with the anger of others, therapists and educators recommend a combination of communication and problem-solving strategies.

First take steps to protect yourself from any potential violence (leave, go to a safe house, wait until your partner is sober, etc.). Often a "time-out period" reduces the hostility level. To help reduce chances of aggression, experiment with the following five steps.

Second, ask, "What is it you are angry at me about?" and listen for the unmet expectation, need or demand. Check out their meaning. For example, a parent may ask a teen, "So, you want me to drive you both ways to your new job five days a week, right?" If the unmet expectation is not clear to you, you can always ask, "What is it you want now?"

Be sure to be as empathic and understanding as possible.

Suspend all judgment.

Genuinely strive to look at the situation through the other's eyes.

Sometimes the urge to defend yourself is overwhelming, but don't! Instead, ask, "What did that mean to you?"

If appropriate, paraphrase the other person's viewpoint. A parent might say, "So, after you told me I'd have to drive you to and from work because this is your first job and you really worked hard to get it and I said, 'Let's talk about it later,' you felt like I was putting you off. Do you think that means I don't care about you?"

Listen and paraphrase until the speaker indicates you've got their viewpoint.

Third, whether your critic is wrong or right, find some way to agree. Having a "we-can-solve-this-problem attitude" helps a lot. For example, "I have to agree that I was in a rush when you announced your new job. You're right? it would have been better if I'd explained that I had to go to the office in five minutes for an important meeting, but that I really do care about you and your new job and would love to hear about it later."

Fourth, ask "What do you want (of me) now?" During the time you take to listen for the unmet expectation, empathize with the other person's viewpoint and tell them where you agree, much of the intense anger disappears. A clue that the time is ripe is when you hear an audible sigh as the angry person takes a deep breath and the energy shifts. Once the anger has subsided in both you and your critic, ask the question. Your critic might say something like: "You're the parent and I want you to show you care about my life, too, by driving me to and from work."

Fifth, negotiate a win-win agreement. Explain your viewpoint tactfully and assertively negotiate differences. For instance, "I'll tell you what, since your job is not that far from school and 3:30 is a busy time for me, why don't you walk to work from school and I'll pick you up at 6:30 every day? Can we try this for a couple of weeks and see if it works?"

Of course, not everyone wants to work out a win-win solution to a problem. If you use some of these steps and find yourself feeling more angry for what the person is saying or doing, stop and ask yourself, "What's going on? Do I feel like I'm losing and the other person is winning?" If so, check this out with the other person by saying something like "I started this conversation with a win-win attitude. Now I feel like we're in a you-win I-lose situation. Is that what you want? Are you willing to go back with me to a win-win attitude?" If they're willing, proceed. If not, it may be time to seek the help of an impartial third party.

Three additional strategies may help handle others' anger:

1. Use the person's name. This will help you get the angry person's attention.

2. Slow down and lower your voice. When someone is very angry, his or her speech will usually be very rapid. Slowing down your rate of speech and lowering your voice may lead the angry person to a more reasonable tone.

3. Sit down. Sitting makes you less intimidating. It also slows an angry person's rapid thoughts and words. Ask the angry person to take a seat beside you as you discuss the problem. Sitting next to a person (versus across from them) is a more supportive position.

Spend some time learning about anger, what provokes anger in you and what calms you down. Then choose to express anger constructively so that its expression builds rather than damages relationships. Deal with others' anger toward you in ways that can actually help defuse their anger.
 

Lana

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Great questions, Janet. One day my husband (who is the epitome of even-temper) grew frustrated with a broken phone and in a fit, started smashing it to bits on the counter! I froze! And then?I cried like a baby. My reaction surprised and shocked both of us.

Ever since that incident, I noticed that I suffer from particular infliction, whenever someone gets angry, upset, or even remotely aggressive, anxiety strikes! I literally feel my chest tighten, my heart rate speed up, and my skin flush. At times, it?s so bad, it actually affects my perception. I miss things, auditory or visual and speech becomes difficult. Through all times I struggle my fight or flight response as well as impatience with myself and my inability to get a grip on things. It?s quite debilitating.

I know where this comes from. I grew up with a very abusive mother as a single child. Any irritation or upset on her part, no matter how mild, has always ended up as an ?episode? that hurt me. It?s an automatic response to what the brain perceives as a threat. I KNOW that I?m ok, I KNOW that I?m just reacting, but the autonomous nervous system kicks into high gear and I am left to ride it out. I am an Avoidant so with help form my therapist; I had to re-learn to cope and to check my perceptions as I form my responses. I?m still work in progress.

Having said all that, I find myself working with a fellow that appears to be chronically intense, always looking angry. He?s very intelligent and fantastic at what he does, but?he is very very tense and I share an office with him, a very small office. Everytime he gripes about something or someone (and he does not hide it and is quite vocal), I literally feel my shoulders tense up and my anxiety rising.

I know we can?t change people, only they can change if and when they want to. But, we can change how we respond to their expression of anger. I let them own it. It?s theirs, and not mine. I will not feed it either. If someone wishes to be angry all the time at every little thing, so be it. I just do what I can to not let it influence me. If I feel that I?m becoming affected, I either move to another place, or if I?m close to the person, use humour to get their attention, or ask them what they need to stop. These are by no means the only options or even ideal ones?lol?.like I said, I?m still work in progress.
 
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Ever since that incident, I noticed that I suffer from particular infliction, whenever someone gets angry, upset, or even remotely aggressive, anxiety strikes! I literally feel my chest tighten, my heart rate speed up, and my skin flush. At times, it?s so bad, it actually affects my perception. I miss things, auditory or visual and speech becomes difficult. Through all times I struggle my fight or flight response as well as impatience with myself and my inability to get a grip on things. It?s quite debilitating.

I can relate to this. I get a frantic feeling inside. One of the things that happens is he loses things and I am responsible for finding them. Growing up I was always the one who found the things my father lost. I was just good at it. Now I'm not so good at it anymore and I feel responsible still.

And you're right, we can't change people, only how we respond. Sometimes I go along with him, nod my head and try to be sympathetic. I feel guilty for doing that because I can see that he's wrong sometimes, taking his anger out on somehow who doesn't deserve it. I think it's very hard on him to be so angry. Humor is a good idea.

Thanks for your response.

And we're all works in progress. :)
 

just mary

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Hi Janet,

Janet said:
One of the things that happens is he loses things and I am responsible for finding them.

I know what that is about. If he can't find something he accuses me of "hucking it out". Our house has so much stuff in it because I'm afraid of "hucking it out". I keep everything.

But you and Lana are both right, we can't change people or how they react to certain situations. We have to take a step back (if we can) and let him have his tirade by himself. And to me, that's the important part, it's his anger not mine. I can't get caught up in it.

Thanks for starting this thread Janet, it has good information.

Take care, :)
 

foghlaim

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also it's a good idea to remember who owns the problem.
if a person loses something, they lost it, not you, so it's their problem. refuse to take responsibility for their prooblem, maybe offer to help find it, when they calm down but only then. this used to work for me.
if the stay angry, go to another room and let them off, don't allow their anger to push your buttons.. it can always be talked about later. or not, depending on the person.

nsa
 

solitary man

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I had to deal with yesterday.

During my subway trek to work in the morning, I "exchanged" words with a woman who felt manners didn't apply to her.

Normally I wouldn't have said anything, but lately I've been feeling like I should stand up for myself more often.

After I had the last word and parted ways, I got down to the platform via the stairs while this mad woman flew down the escalator to confront me again.

I continued to walk towards the exit while I ignored the rantings of this mad woman, when she grabs me my arm with good force, swings me around and clocks me in the head.

Now, I'm about 5'10" and skinny and this woman was no more than 5'4", and
I've always thought that I would instinctly fight back, but being caught unprepared , all I was able to do was push her off and yell "don't touch me".

She lunged at me again and I was able block her punch and gave her a good push to which I was able to move away from the situation.

We exchanged words again and I left it at that considering I was already late for work.
Since the station wasn't that busy in the morning, I don't know if anyone else witnessed what took place, and the transit staff that were there were occuppied with other riders.

I called the transit customer line later in the day and they stated that I should have reported the assault and I could call the police to make a report.

I've never seen this woman before in my travels, and now I'm thinking what if she had been armed?

I'm not a violent person, but now I'm angry that I let someone hit me and not defend myself.
If I should run into her again, I'm going to do my best not to react and if she should attempt to attack, I will do what it takes to defend myself.
 

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