Being able to de-escalate one’s own and the anger of others is an important skill to have in business. Hopefully, this is not something the reader deals with on a regular basis but unfortunately most people in business encounter either their own anger or the anger of others more frequently than they would like.
In order to be successful at de-escalating anger, a person must understand and become skillful in prevention and intervention areas. Today I want to discuss the prevention phase.
1. Recognize that anger is a choice of a wide range of behaviors that could be used to get what one needs in a situation. It is a behavior that has benefit for its user. Anger can get people the attention they need, help them escape things they don’t want to do, help them gain control over another person or situation, or pump them up when they are feeling small and insignificant.
2. The person interacting with the angry person must identify his or her own emotions at any given point in time. If the helping person is also experiencing anger, then that person will not be very effective assisting others to manage theirs.
3. When potential interventionists are experiencing anger, they must be able to change what they are doing or thinking to get their emotions under control or seek the assistance they will need to manage the situation.
4. Perform a quick self-assessment. A potential helper must ask the following questions. Can I avoid criticizing and finding fault with the angry person? Can I avoid being judgmental? Can I keep from trying to control the other person into doing something he or she doesn’t want to do? Can I keep myself removed from the conflict? Can I believe that the people using anger have the right to make decisions and choices about how they meet their needs and that they have within them the ability to make those decisions? Can I try to see the situation from the angry person’s point of view and understand what need or needs he or she is trying to satisfy? And finally, can I remember that my job is to place the healing of relationships as my primary concern?
If the listener can’t answer these questions in the affirmative, then he or she will need assistance in managing the person who is expressing anger.
5. Recognize early warning signs. Many incidents of anger could be prevented if those who are around a person about to become angry notice the subtle change in the person’s behavior. Quiet people may become agitated; while louder, more outgoing people generally become quiet and introspective. Paying attention to these subtle changes and simply commenting on the change could help the individual talk about things so he or she wouldn’t have to become angry.
Next time, let's discuss the intervention phase.
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