I have noticed something about people (including myself) and anger. For most of us, anger is seductive. Despite popular belief, it feels really good to get angry. There is pleasure in it. Yelling and screaming, ranting, and losing control is self-satisfying. We let go of the constraints of good behavior as we explore the limits of bad behavior.
Often, our anger follows a logical thread, but anger doesn’t need logic to fan the flames. When we’re angry we choose facts based on how well they support the reasoning we want, not what is reasonable. We also look to find old issues that our compromising or humiliating to the person we are arguing with, in order to verbally attack their vulnerabilities.
In the heat of our anger we feel powerful because we see ourselves as righteous and pure in our cause for perceived injustices. Anger gives us license to ignore anyone else’s viewpoint because they don’t agree with you, therefore, they must be wrong.
How To Respond To Anger
Ignoring someone’s anger is not a solution. Ignoring an angry person enables him or her through a belief that the behavior is appropriate. Direct confrontation with the person is also inappropriate as it is likely he or she is not rationale, nor are they interested in a logical discussion.
If it is appropriate, a person expressing overt anger can be removed from the situation providing they can be paired with a calm, non-threatening person while they de-escalate. If that is not appropriate and the person seems capable of harming themselves or others, another tactic is to become their ally. Agreeing with them and helping them to make a plan of addressing the issues causing the anger may defuse them long enough to disengage from the anger.
This tactic cannot be sarcastic, nor condescending in any way. It may also require lying to the person; however, if physical harm is a possibility, lying is a small price to pay to avoid someone becoming hurt. Once you have lied to a person who is angry, you may have damaged the relationship beyond recovery, so it should not be done unless all other options have been exhausted.
Once out of the situation, the person should be directed to counseling. It may be helpful to see an angry person as an addict who turns to rage for their high, and just like an addict, the person needs expert help to disconnect from the need for a fix.