3 Key Steps TO Deal With Someone Angry
Ah When someone gets angry in our presence, it can really be hard to deal with. Particularly when that person directs it all at us. Learning not to take on someone else’s emotional experience is incredibly liberating. These are the 3 keys to engaging a person in a heightened state such as anger.
Most people identify straight with someone’s emotional experience. Instead of identifying with the emotion – in this instance anger, identify with the person. This places a safe boundary between you both, it is this distance that allows you to be a support person and also establishes safety for yourself. You can try to:
- Use their name;
- Take the time to listen to what they are saying;
- Reflect back to them what you can hear them saying to you.
- Allow your voice to be firm but also kind.
- Reflect their emotional state without judgement, but as a matter of fact. Use phrases such as ‘you seem overwhelmed’ or ‘I can hear that is very stressful right now’ or ‘sometimes it’s just not fair’;
Once you have connected with someone (and only once you have connected) start to draw on strategies that calm.
- Start by taking deep breaths yourself. Sometimes by just doing this in someone’s presence they too may start to breathe into their own belly.
- Ask the person what they need right now;
- Offer a cup of tea or a walk;
- Suggest moving to a more private space;
- If appropriate, use firm touch on their shoulder or hand;
- Ask them if they’d like to take some deep breathes.
- Ask them to participate in a grounding exercise, for example identifying 5 things they see, 5 things they hear, 5 things they can touch;
Sometimes an angry outburst is precipitated by an event that can trigger a sense of overwhelm or powerlessness.
Support someone to identify what this was and for them to identify what they can do to remedy this. This isn’t about giving advice, it is about asking them, how they want to handle this problem or issue. This supports the person in being able to regain a sense of empowerment, which is often lacking when people live in a state of continual anger