How to Approach and Assist an Angry Person

Anger

We all encounter angry people in every walk of life. Some will confront them, others avoid them like the plague. There are times when either approach is acceptable. I do not like drama. However, I am concerned about others when they appear upset. And I am very knowledgeable as to how to help them. After all, I’ve been doing this professionally for twenty years. So my choice as to whether or not I become involved has to do with several factors including how well I know the person, if I’m mentally prepared to assist them at that time, if I feel they are open to my help, and if this is a serious issue.

Here are a few tips should you decide to reach out with a thoughtful heart:

1. Make a non-judgmental observation. “You seem upset.”
2. Avoid using the term angry as it can actually increase their anger.
3. Validate their feelings. One of our most basic human needs is to be acknowledged.
4. Express genuine concern.
5. Ask them to sit down rather than calm down so that you may better understand what they have to say.
6. Set boundaries if their behavior is out of control.
7. Listen empathetically. Understand their feelings, not simply their situation.
8. Ask questions to better understand their situation.
9. Ask if they are happy with their current situation and/or how they feel about it or if they would like things to be different.
10. Inquire as to how you can best help them.
11. Reassure them that you have faith in their ability to move beyond this.
12. Interject humor only if appropriate.

To that list, I’d like to add a few “do not’s”:

~Be wary of incendiary statements such as “What’s your problem?” “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
~Do not get caught up in their drama, anger, rage, etc. Remain calm.
~Stay focused on them and their issue. Don’t make this about you.
~Don’t personalize or take offense to what they are saying or doing. Their emotions and actions are about themselves, not you.
~Never allow them to direct their anger at you.
They may express it to you but not at you.
We all have issues with anger. Sometimes we have to address our own and sometimes we need to offer assistance to others. When safe to do so, be a vessel of healing to another. One person at a time and we can heal our angry planet. Peace.

 

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