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Controlling Anger When Someone Yells At You

by Steve Kaye, Ph.D., CPF

Suppose someone storms into your office and yells at you.

What do you do? (Let's hope this is a rare occurrence.)

First, here are three considerations:

1. Anger is scary

Anger foretells punishment. (At least that has been my experience.) Thus, our instinctive reaction when attacked is to protect ourselves by fighting back or running away.

2. Violence hurts you

Verbal violence consists of accusations, insults, and a barrage of manipulations. Physical violence is worse. All are designed to hurt you.

3. Anger conveys pain

People express anger when they are in pain, which can result from fear, frustration, or disappointment. It's a normal reaction. Of course, most people are able to manage their emotions before they become angry.

Someone who experiences chronic anger, needs help working on their inner self. They should consult a therapist or counselor. This matters because anger can ruin a career (and a life). It certainly ruins the relationships where it occurs.

Here's what to do:

1. Watch the show

Difficult as this may seem, your best option is to be quiet. Just listen. Detach from the anger. Take none of it personally.

Recognize that this is similar to having someone walk into your office with a bad cough. You did not cause the cough. You are not responsible for the cough. The cough is a symptom of an illness. And it's the other person's job to stop coughing.

2. Wait it out

Eventually, the angry person will run out of words, energy, or air. Just wait until the attack is over. Use the time to focus on your breath.

3. Never fight back

If you counterattack, you will lose. Such actions often provoke the angry person into becoming more upset. Or your counterattack can turn you into becoming a worse monster than the one that stormed into your office.

4. Leave Your Office

Simply walk away. If necessary, tell the angry person that you must (for example) go to the restroom. It might sound like, "Excuse me, Iím going to the restroom." Then leave. Do not apologize or ask permission. Just leave. Use this time to calm down and collect your thoughts.

5. Call security

If you feel that your safety is threatened, call for help. Use your phone or shout for help.

6. Acknowledge the issue

Tell the person that you understand there is something you need to talk about. Then suggest talking about it at another time. If appropriate bring a colleague who can serve as a mediator and witness.

7. Tell the truth

When you meet with the other person, state that: a) You are willing to cooperate in finding a solution to the issue, and b) You want to be treated with respect.

8. Accept the truth

Recognize that the other person may have become upset because of something that you did (or didn't do). Determine the real issue. It may be the result of many things, ranging from a mistake to a misunderstanding. Then, be prepared to apologize and seek solutions.

9. Document the event

Write an entry in your personal log book, documenting the date, time, person's name, and event. You may need this record if the person's behavior results in a court case. If appropriate, write a letter to your HR representative and the person's boss.

10 Find another job

No one should be subjected to violence. If this person continues attacking you with anger, find another job. Ask your HR representative for a transfer. Or leave for another company. Your well-being and safety are more important than any opportunity that may exist in your current company. If possible, find the new job before quitting the old one.

Concluding note: Effective leaders communicate expectations, results, and feelings before a situation pushes them to anger.

©2010 Steve Kaye

Steve Kaye helps leaders get results. He is an author, speaker an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator. His workshops and meeting facilitation create success for everyone. Call 714-528-1300 for details. Visit http://www.stevekaye.com for a free report.

Some Related Articles:

Tips For Dealing With an Office Bully Coworker
How to Defuse Other People's Anger
Want to Grab Them By the Throat and Knock Them Senseless?

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