Ok admit it: The first thing we want to do when dealing with an angry person is to get them to STOP being angry. Our tendency is to want THEM to change!
Rather, Be Impeccable for your 50%. Instead of trying to get them to calm down, calm yourself down. Be the one who is level headed and can offer better solutions to the issue.
The way you talk to them can lead to calm and better solutions to their problem. How to do that?
1. Use ‘cooling breath’. It literally detoxifies negative emotions from your liver and helps you to feel ‘cooled off’. And even more relevant, not only does it calm you down but it calms the other person down! (Yes, I stop fights on the NYC subways from across the subway car just by doing cooling breath. Try it!)
2. Blend with them verbally (by repeating their name, or restating their emotion or request) or nonverbally (by lowering your voice pitch and slowing down the pace)
3. “Match before Move”. First, Empathize. Once you are back in the thinking part of your brain and out of emotional hijack, you can start to connect with that person. Acknowledge what they are feeling, appreciate that person feels upset because they are not in control of something that is important to them even if you don’t agree with it. So ‘Match’ (what they feel now) before you try to ‘Move’ (influence them to feel or act differently). An angry person needs to feel you ‘get them’ and their concerns before they can calm down or be led toward constructive problem solving.
4. Help solve the problem that is angering them. Ask clarifying, structuring questions to understand the facts and help that person get back into the thinking part of their brain too. Summarize what you heard and ask for confirmation. Be creative about a plan to resolve the issue. Communicate that plan confidently and concisely so they feel you will help them.
5. Bonus: How not to let it affect your day! After interacting with a person who is angry, it often takes you off of your course. How can you not stay angry the rest of the day after someone has made you angry?
Tell a different story about why they are acting angry. If you judge them, you will see them as a ‘jerk’ and intruding on your life. You will want to avoid – not partner – with them.
Instead, if you have compassion that they are in a crunch moment you will calm yourself down as well.
Cooling breath is great way to prevent reacting. But once you are already angry or frustrated how can you work it through your body so it doesn’t consume your attention the rest of the day?
Here’s where “the Karate Chop” will come in handy. Place your hands in front of your abdomen area with palms facing one another. Start moving your hands up and down as if you were chopping the air (that’s what you are doing, dissolving the negative energy from that person!)
Do that for 2-3 minutes and all your negative emotion will go away. You may not even remember that the person made you angry in the first place!