Video: How Should We Deal with Angry People?

Posted By: on June 03, 2015

I’d like to address the question of what do we do with angry people who are convinced they’re right and insist we agree with them. Sometimes that can be our partners insisting the way in which they’re doing things is the right way even when it’s hurting us.

When people come our way who act in angry ways to get their way, there are many different responses that may be appropriate. I’ll propose one possible path forward here. This is what I did in the case of an angry colleague:

The first thing I did is just listen and take what’s being said seriously. I tried not to take the words as an attack on me personally, even though the words and what they conveyed hurt me. Instead I tried to understand what was behind the request, even if it was hard to hear in the anger. I tried to listen and understand the relational needs and feelings and take these seriously.

It’s often good, in response to an angry person, to initially just listen and hear them, as opposed to getting involved in presenting a counterpoint right away – if the dialogue can wait even an hour.

Next, I’ll sit down with her and share very simply that I have heard her, I understand her needs, and I would like her to understand mine as well, so that we can have a dialogue together that allows a relationship to continue. And I’d ask that she listen to me, and simply take the time to hear me and my perspective. I’ll ask her to think about my words and to came back with me and talk to me about it.

There’s no guarantee it will work, but I do think this gives me the best chance to succeed when faced with an angry confrontation.

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