The opposite of anger is not calmness, it’s empathy. – Mehmet Oz
Trying to get through to someone who is angry or acting irrationally can be very frustrating. It’s also easy to dismiss their anger or write them off. However, at work and in life that is not always an option.
There are some ways to diffuse someone’s anger and bring them back into a more rational frame of mind. So here are a few simple things anyone can do to calm a situation down.
Don’t get worked up
Remain calm. When people are angry, don’t respond with anger. This will make them feel their anger is justified and simply fuels further anger, escalating the situation. Your goal is to calm them down.
Take a deep breath. Remember the person is not angry at you, but often with something completely different. You’re just the recipient of their free-floating hostility. Keep calm and they’ll work through the anger. They could just need someone to listen to them. Calmly hear them out and that could be all they need.
Put yourself in their shoes
You never know what is going on behind the doors of someone else’s life. This could be the worst day of their life. They could have gotten some terrible news, or they could be dealing with a major life change. Listen to what they’re saying.
Try to put yourself into their situation for a just a moment. Everyone has bad days and on those days we have to talk to people; this could be one of those days. Empathy and compassion for others is the key to understanding them, their reactions and responses.
You’re here to help
Life is rough and we’re all in this together. Show them that you care. We all have days where we need someone to reach out and help us. The cause of anger or irrational behaviour can be stress or sadness about something unrelated.
Empathise with the person and let them see that you care. You feel their pain. You understand the anger and you’re here to help them out. They have a problem and you’re here to fix it.
There is no better feeling than when someone is taking care of you. I’ve seen anger melt away when the person knew I was there to solve their problems and make things better for them. Just letting people know you’re there to support them makes the biggest difference.