When Negative Emotions Run High, Work To Reduce Them

by Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Maybe it’s the summer heat. Maybe it’s the general frustration with the economy, the government, whatever. Perhaps it’s even the growing realization of a global conspiracy against wealth. Whatever the cause, people seem a little angry these days.

If you run your own business, you are likely seeing a rise in the frequency and severity of angry people. Your employees are mad. Your customers are mad. Even the usually-even-keeled banker is a little snippy. But do you know how to calm an angry person? If you want to show inspirational leadership, you have to build some skill in dealing with those who can’t keep from ranting.

There are several things to bear in mind when trying to turn a conflict at work back toward collaboration. Here, I’ll discuss one of the most important: reducing the emotional content of the interaction.

When a person gets in your face with super-hot anger, you’d love to have that one magic word or phrase that makes his anger go from a 10-plus on the ten-point Anger-ometer back down to zero. But such words don’t exist. In fact, any comprehension of words at all would require something like rational thought from the angry person, and that part of his brain just isn’t available right now. He’s been possessed by the Anger Demon, and reasoning with him is futile.

That’s the hardest thing to bear in mind when you’re trying to learn how to calm an angry person. You want to reason with him, because (not being possessed by the Anger Demon) YOUR brain is still working. But, believe me, if you try to reason with an anger-possessed person, it’ll be like throwing gasoline on the fire. It won’t work. In fact, most people come to realize that, when dealing with an angry person, “nothing will work.” That’s spot-on. And the more nothing you do, the more it works.

The first step in calming the angry person is to reduce the emotional content. Just listen. If you have great people skills, you can try a little empathy… but most of the words that come out of your mouth will risk re-agitating the angry person. The idea is to let some time pass, let some of the angry person’s adrenaline ventilate, and wait for things to quiet down.

Studies have shown that a person doesn’t have the energy to maintain the highest levels of yelling and screaming for more than about ninety seconds. It might seem like 90 minutes, but really, it passes fairly quickly. When they finally calm down, try some empathetic words in a soothing tone, and you are likely to find you’re better able to communicate.

There are more techniques to master in order to calm the anger-possessed – watch this space for future installments. Meanwhile, if you come across an angry person and can’t think of anything else to do, just be patient, listen, and try to show some empathy. Reduce the emotional content, and the rational part of the interaction will have a chance to emerge.

 Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.Those with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to make money “one less thing to worry about” can learn more about working with Michael at http://www.caym.tv/18812Anyone wanting to jump-start their vitality can browse through the best (and most travel-friendly) nutraceuticals on the market at http://shop.enivausa.com/239824Michael and his wife, Kathryn, divide their time between homes in California and Colorado. They are very proud of their offspring, who grew up to include a homemaker, a rock star, a service talent, and a television expert. Two grandchildren also warm their hearts! Visit Michael’s web site at http://michaelhume.net
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