Angry people can be scary. Sometimes we have to deal with them and their anger anyway. This course shows you how to turn an angry person into a calm person. In just one hour it shows you what not to do and how to relate effectively, even when people on "red alert" behavior. The video and audio examples are supplemented with written summaries. Mini-posters to remind you about key points help you change habits quickly. Take this course and never fear ranting again!
You have done a good thing for yourself by enrolling in this SavvyQuick course! Improving your human relations skills can make your life easier and better. We want that for you!
The course will take only about an hour to complete. You can take a break along the way and come back to it at any time. When print material is given, such as this section, read it before watching the video.
Do yourself the favor by learning as much as you can as soon as you can. Then use it as well as you can as often as you need to. Time spent learning is lavishly repaid.
The first step toward improvement is to quit doing what doesn't work, so we'll look at five ineffective methods of responding to an angry person. See if you recognize anyone here! You may even see yourself, and if you do, that's a good thing because then you can start doing better.
Summary: The Delay Style refuses, in words and by nonverbal means, to talk with the other person until he or she STOPS being angry. This is heavy rejection, which gives them one more reason to feel angry. The most likely effect: the angry person becomes angrier.
Wow! This is short but not sweet.
SUMMARY: The Brush Off Style IGNORES the angry person’s outburst. Ignoring a person is the SUPREME insult because it says, in effect, “You do not exist.” Provokes greater anger. (Ignoring an outburst of anger is the RIGHT thing to do when a person repeatedly uses anger to try to manipulate you.)
Here is the classic "smarter than you" intellectualizer approach. Aarrrgh! It tries to bury the angry person under a pile of reasons that comes across as "If you were as smart (and mature) as me you would be in this pathetic state of bone-headed anger that you are in. How can that help?
SUMMARY: The Reasoning Style attempts to explain WHY the person should not be angry. The likely results are: (1) The angry person does not accurately hear your explanations.
(2) The angry person hears but argues about it.
A person who is full of emotion is greatly limited in the ability to listen to reason. It is like trying to push a ping-pong ball up a gushing fire hose. It just ain't gonna work! Even if the ideas are brilliant. Save it for later.
Here comes mama to save the day! Really? You mean you think I am a child? That I am a Total Incompetent? Yes, some angry people are childish, and many will accept help they don't need, but this is a trap you don't need to get yourself in to.
SUMMARY: The Rescuer Style is like Mother Hen rushing in to fix all of little baby’s problems.
Two big problems with this approach:
(1) It rewards the angry person for blowing up instead of coping with frustration. It lets them remain emotionally underdeveloped.
(2) The Rescuer will not be able to fix all of the problems that occur in the future. Live your life as an adult; help them to live their life with adult skills and relationships.
Here comes trouble--bigger and bigger trouble.
SUMMARY: The Fiery Style fights fire with fire. The effect of this is that conflict grows because we nearly always get back from others what we give.
THREE GOOD NEWS FACTS ABOUT ANGRY PEOPLE
1. The anger is probably not about you.
Demonstration by Staff Stuntman, Dan: Why People Blow Up in Anger
It is a release of their internal pressure, More often than not, that pressure is not because of one big thing, but is the result of lots and lots of little things.
Balloons don’t explode because of the pin. Balloons pop because of the internal pressure.
When people are filled with more and more pressure they are like a thin-skinned balloon about to pop. They will explode after just a slight touch from something outside of them. You are USUALLY the pin, not the big wad of stress that CAUSES the explosive burst.
2. They don’t want to stay angry.
Being angry is difficult work. When offered a reasonable alternative to anger, people almost always will take it.
3. Respectful acceptance is soothing emotional first aid.
When we offer acceptance of them as a person it is like soothing cream on a sunburn; it brings hope. Accepting them as a person does not mean agreeing with what they say or believe.
Anger is like a weed that will continue to grow unless you dig out the roots. This section will help you find the source (the roots) of anger. This is a step--sometimes many steps--beyond the initial "first aid" response to an angry person, at which time the effort is to help them level off emotionally and address the source (the roots) that feed the weed of angry behavior.
Angry people can be dangerous, true enough. And they usually do not expect to be treated with respect while they are angry. When respect is offered it may surprise them. Most angry people, in most situations, respond to the expression of honest respect by beginning to relax. The things most dreaded is to be put down, dismissed, shunned, treated like a child. When we do better than that, they usually will too.
HOW TO RESPOND EFFECTIVELY
Speak calmly and state that you will listen to whatever the angry person wants to talk about. Get this message across: “It’s okay for you to express your anger. You and what you are concerned about are important to me.”
Whatever your words are, be clear, brief and sincere. The nonverbal style is very important.
Your voice should be soft and slow.
Keep your body calm and avoid dramatic gestures. A posture that is relaxed, but attentive, is best. Your distance should not be as close as usual.
When people are angry the world seems threatening. These adjustments make sure your style of response will not be threatening.
And with that, you listen. (Listening does not mean agreeing.) The most likely result: Some of the anger flows away.
If they’re angry because of something that you have done, or something you were responsible to do but did not do: apologize and make amends as soon as you can.
FOLLOW THIS SCRIPT FOR BETTER, LASTING LEARNING
The video showed five ways to make a bad situation worse, and it offered some simple guidelines that almost always will make things better. This short audio segment gives you another way to learn those skills. Now, there’s a good reason why this part of your course is on audio. I want you to concentrate on the words and on how the words are said. Audio by itself helps you concentrate on those features—tone of voice, loudness, speed. And that’s important because how something is said can make it easier or make it more difficult for the other person to accept what you are saying.
We return to the sad story of the angry neighbor.
Angry Person: Just look at that! My yard is all full of leaves. And they are off your trees. See—this is a maple leaf. You have maple trees, I don't. Why can't you keep your stupid leaves raked up so they don't come over into my yard. It isn't fair!
Neighbor’s response: You know, that sounds like something that’s really important for us to talk about and I’d like it if we could we sit down and discuss it. Can we do that?
Angry Person: Uh, well, yeah, sure. I mean, maybe it's not that big a deal, but . . . . yeah, I could use a break. Let’s go over to the patio.
Neighbor: The words that were given in response to the angry outburst had nocondemnation and they showed willingness to get involved. The tone of voice was relaxed but attentive. It didn’t sound like disapproval. The response proved acceptance, without punishing the angry guy for the unpleasantness of his anger. If you can do that, you will get to know the person better and you may be able to help resolve the causes of that person’s anger.
Narrator: Here's another type of situation. If the other person is angry at something you have done, or angry because you have not done something which you should have done, that's a different matter and it calls for a different response on your part. In such a case the best thing for you to do is to admit that you have been at fault. Apologize and do what you can do to undo the damage and put things back to the way they should be. For example:
Angry Person: Your dog was in my yard this morning and dug a hole in my flower bed where I had just planted some spring bulbs.
Neighbor’s response includes an apology: Oh, man! I knew Vinnie had gotten out of my yard but I didn't know he’d done any harm. I'm sorry, and I want to do what’s fair to make amends. Is there some way I can help you put things back?
Angry Person: Uh, well, no . . . I’ve already replanted them. I mean, well, it wasn’t that big a deal, but . . . uh, it’s just that I don’t know what to expect next.
Narrator: When you have been at fault, there is nothing that will take the place of admitting it and patching things up the best way you can. You can ignore the mess you made for the moment, perhaps, but if you don't clean it up you’re going to have a bigger mess later. But, okay, okay, this angry person settled down pretty quickly and it doesn't happen that way every time, does it? It will turn out that way surprisingly often when you follow this method. But what if it doesn't? Let's suppose the neighbor isn't so cooperative about the damage done by the dog, Vinnie.
Angry Person: Okay, so you help me plant the bulbs again. Big deal. What's to say it won't happen again? I think that dog of yours can jump over the fence.
Neighbor: It’s up to me to keep Vinnie where he belongs. And, frankly, I think I may need to get a better fence, so I will call a fence company in the morning.
Angry Person: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But calling the fence company in the morning doesn’t fix my sore back tonight.
Neighbor: I sure wish it could. Right now, the one thing I can do is apologize for the extra work that we caused you. I’m sorry about that.
Angry Person: It isn’t just now, but I don't know what the dog might next time!
Neighbor: You take a lot of pride in your landscaping, and rightly so—your yard is the showplace of the neighborhood.
Angry Person: It is!
Neighbor: And Vinnie seems like a threat to the beauty of your yard.
Angry Person: In a way, yes.
Neighbor: Neither of us wants Vinnie to bother your yard.
Angry Person: Well, I should hope not!
Neighbor: I think I know how Vinnie got out this morning, and it was my fault. It is an aggravation for you, and that's why I want to do my share to fix the damage and I certainly want to keep Vinnie where he belongs, which is inside the fence in our back yard.
Angry Person: Yeah.
Neighbor: I don't know what else to say.
Angry Person: Uh, well, I guess that's fair enough. Uh, that's okay. You don't need to do anything, except keep the dog where he belongs.
Neighbor: I agree with you about that and we're gonna do our best. We really do feel privileged to have the beauty of your yard next door to ours.
Angry Person: Well, thanks. Uh, I better get going. Bye.
Neighbor: Bye now.
Narrator: Let’s pick some lessons up from this. First, Vinnie’s owner took responsibility. That’s what we need to do. If we make the problem, we fix it. Skipping out is not an option for a Christian. WWJD. Vinnie’s owner apologized by saying: “Right now, the one thing I can do is apologize for the extra work that we caused you. I’m sorry about that.” Vinnie’s owner showed understanding about the angry neighbor’s concern about the future.
Owner: “And Vinnie seems like a threat to the beauty of your yard.”
Neighbor: “In a way, yes.”
Owner: “Well, neither of us wants Vinnie to bother your yard.”
Narrator: And he reassured the neighbor that he would fix the problem.
Owner: “And that’s why I want to do my share to fix the damage and I certainly want to keep Vinnie where he belongs, which is inside the fence in our back yard.
Narrator: Vinnie’s owner gave genuine compliments.
Owner: “We really do feel privileged to have the beauty of your yard next door to ours. Your yard is the showplace of the neighborhood.”
Narrator: The dog owner’s vocal style did not sound either defensive or angry. He sounded believable because he was one hundred percent honest in his regret, his compassion, and in his promise to make amends. The neighbor settled down when treated with respect that was communicated in a warm, friendly manner, not as loud as the angry person and slower than his speed of talking. I know that it doesn’t always work out smoothly, but it usually does because most people would rather be relaxed than angry. Treating people with genuine respect works wonders almost every time. Try it for yourself and see!
This course has shown you how not to and how to be effective when responding to an angry person. To make sure you have it in your head clearly and that it will be there when you need it, go through this 13-minute review, which also adds further polishing of the concepts.
This page of "mini-posters" will help you capture and master attitudes and skills that will bring you success when you need to deal with an angry person. Print and cut them apart; post them at home or workplace where they will remind you how to be effective in difficult situations. They are available as a downloadable pdf file.
WHAT'S A "FOREVER" TRUTH ?
A “Forever” Truth is a fact—a reality—that remains the same throughout time (century after century) and across space (from continent to continent) no matter what or how all other things may change. The Holy Bible—written by Jehovah through the hands of people he chose—is the source of such truth on all matters of human conduct (it is not about technical details of the physical universe).
The Bible is about the human spirit, about relationships, about practical matters of everyday life. This is shown by these samples of its teaching about work and wages. I have confidence in it, not because it is old truth, and not even because it proves itself in practice to be true (as it does), but I am confident in God’s words (as recorded in the Bible) because I have confidence in God, who has always treated me exactly as the Bible says he will. He is God who wants relationship with little ol’ me. His nature is love, and because of that he makes it possible for every part of my life, including work, to have meaning.
Sources of further information and training on this topic.
Rich Walters holds master’s degrees in business and counseling, and the PhD in counseling psychology (University of Georgia). He learned theories about distress such as anger and perfectionism during his training, but he learned the "real, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road" practical help that is in his courses from clinical experience as a licensed psychologist. Every strategy he recommends has worked time and again as a useful answer for a valued person. He has led hundreds of training sessions on anger, conflict management, and human relations skills in businesses and churches, has taught counselor education and psychology at para-professional, undergraduate, and graduate levels, and is the author of 24 books on counseling-related topics and life skills (published in nine countries). He recently retired as Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Oxford Graduate School. He is co-founder (with his wife, Dr Diana Walters) of the Center for Bold Action, a nonprofit that encourages and equips people to live joyfully and effectively for the betterment of their own and others' lives.