If you want to become interpersonally competent, you need to do three things. 1) Get to know yourself; your likes, dislikes, hot buttons etc. Use this knowledge to help you better understand others. 2) Build strong relationships with the important people in your life. 3) Resolve conflict in a positive manner.
No matter how good you are at building relationships and at resolving conflict, from time to time you will find yourself dealing with someone who is angry. Anger is never pleasant. And, in most cases, getting angry yourself is not a constructive way to deal with another person’s anger.
In my book Fixing Performance Problems, I offer some ideas for dealing with anger. I’ve recapped them below.
Four Tips for Dealing With Anger
1. Acknowledge the anger. Angry people don’t want to be ignored. When you’re dealing with an angry person, the best thing you can do is to make sure that he or she know that you are listening and taking the matter seriously. Listen. Take notes. Be patient. Don’t interrupt, let him or her vent. Show empathy and your understanding of the situation and his or her anger.
2. Stay calm. It won’t do you any good to get into a fight. When you respond in kind to anger, you’ll most often regret it. Don’t let another person goad you into saying something that you don’t want to say.
3. Ask questions. You can calm down and angry person by asking questions. Let him or her vent for a reasonable amount of time. Then get specific. Ask questions to find out exactly why he or she is angry, and what he or she wants you to do. You’ll be surprised how often all an angry person really wants is for you to listen to him or her.
4. Move the conversation away from the anger and toward a solution. Once the angry person has calmed down, get constructive. Help the other person come up with constructive ideas for dealing with the situation that has caused his or her anger. If he or she is having a difficult time coming up with ideas, suggest something that he or she can try. The idea is to help the person move away from non constructive anger to constructive ideas for dealing with the source of the anger.
The common sense point here is simple. Interpersonally competent people build strong relationships. Anger is a threat to relationships. No matter how interpersonally competent you are, you will have to deal with angry people from time to time. If you follow these four simple tips — 1) Acknowledge the anger; 2) Stay calm; 3) Ask questions; 4) move toward a solution – you’ll be able to deal with anger effectively.
That’s my take on how to deal with anger constructively. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts and ideas on how to deal with anger constructively. I value and appreciate your comments. Thanks for reading – and commenting.
Interpersonal competence is one the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.