How to respond to angry people – even when that person is you

Anger is a villain. It’s the bad guy in every scenario. It’s the thing that leads us to making mistakes – saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing. When you’re angry you stop listening, you stop thinking clearly.

This isn’t just me saying this. It’s science. Anger exists in the amygdala. The lizard brain. The tiny, un-evolved part of your brain that produces our fight or flight response. It’s primal. Unsophisticated. It isn’t what you should rely on when making important decisions, or handling important scenarios.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever get angry. Getting angry is a normal, natural response to annoying people, upsetting situations, and frustrating news. We all get angry, and getting to a point where we minimize the number of times we get angry will take years. In the meantime, the best approach is to get past your anger. Slow down, recognize your anger, understand where it’s coming from, and remind yourself that anger is the problem.

I read somewhere the idea that if you’re arguing with someone, it’s not you against them, it’s the two of you against the problem. If someone (either you or the person you’re interacting with) is angry, whatever the cause of the problem or the bigger picture issue is, it’s irrelevant as long as anger exists. You must first get past the anger before moving on to solving the bigger issue.