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By: admin
Have you ever been involved in a situation with an angry person when you felt defeated? Either you escalated to their level of aggression or you allowed yourself to get lambasted and felt battered in the end? There are some easy techniques to work with an angry person to take their level of volatility down to a manageable level so you can intellectually process the problem with them.

Attempting to reason with those who use anger to intimidate, control, get attention, avoid responsibility, or pump themselves up will generally further add to the aggression or at the very least, be ineffective. Your first order of business is to de-escalate the level of anger.

Often in our work environment, we are confronted with angry people, co-workers, those we supervise, customers, supervisors and stakeholders. In the majority of the situations, it is to your benefit to reduce the level of anger in the other person.

Before intervening, do a quick assessment to see if you are in the proper frame of mind for an intervention. This generally means can you view this person as someone who is doing the best he or she can to gethis or her needs met at that point in time? Are you of the mind frame that you will not be reduced to his or her level of anger should you intervene? Can you allow that even if you do everything correctly, people may still maintain their anger because it is what works best for them without feeling as if you failed? If the answer to these questions is yes, then proceed.

De-Escalation Techniques

1. Simple Listening: Sometimes all that is needed is to allow the angry person to vent all their anger and frustration to someone who is actually attentive to what they are saying. Do not attempt to say anything. Just listen attentively, nod your head and sometimes give encouragers, such as "Uh huh," "Go on," or "Yes..." When a person is attempting to get attention with their anger, sometimes all you need to do is to listen until their anger is spent. At that point you may ask a simple question such as, "How can I help you?"

2. Active Listening: Active listening is the process of really attempting to hear, acknowledge and understand what a person is saying. It is a genuine attempt to put yourself in the other person's situation as best you can. Active listening means you are attending not only to the words the other person is saying but also the underlying emotion, as well as, the accompanying body language.

3. Acknowledgement: Acknowledgement occurs when you can legitimately understand the person's angry emotion. You could then honestly respond with, "Wow, I can see how something like that could cause some anger!" You might say, "Man, if that happened to me, I might be angry, too." The tone of your voice is critical in this circumstance. You don't want to use an excitable tone, as it could further incite the angry behavior--rather use a calming and respectful tone of voice designed to help the other person let go of their angry emotion.

It confirms the legitimacy of the emotion, but not the behavior. You want the angry person to realize that being angry isn't the problem, the problem is the way he or she is choosing to act out those angry feelings.

4. Apologizing: Apologizing is the fourth of the de-escalation skills. I'm not talking about apologizing for an imaginary wrong. I am talking about sincerely apologizing for anything in the situation that you believe was unjust. It's simply a statement acknowledging that something occurred that wasn't right.

I am not asking you to take responsibility for something that wasn't your fault. For example, if you can't find anything for which to apologize, you can always say, "I'm so sorry you having such an awful day" or "I'm sorry the situation has you so frustrated." You can apologize without taking on the blame.

5. Agreeing: Often when people are angry about something, there is at least 2 % truth in what they are saying. When attempting to diffuse someone's anger, it is important to listen for that 2 % of truth and agree with it. When you agree with the 2% of truth in the angry person's tirade, you take away the resistance and consequently eliminate the fuel for the fire.

6. Inviting Criticism: Inviting criticism is the final of the de-escalation skills. In this instance you would simply ask the angry person to voice his or her criticism of yourself or the situation more fully. You might say something like, "Go ahead. Tell me everything that has you upset. Don't hold anything back. I want to hear all you have to say."

This invitation will sometimes temporarily intensify the angry emotion but if you continue to encourage the person to vent their anger and frustrations, eventually, they will run out of complaints. Just let them vent until their anger is spent. In essence, this is a combination of inviting criticism and simple listening.

You have been presented with six powerful and effective techniques of de-escalation. However, there may be a rare occasion when you are unsuccessful in your attempts to decrease a person's anger. Your safety should be the primary concern. Don't get between the angry person and his or her only means of escape and similarly, don't allow the angry person to block your only means of escape.

Always have a plan or an established way to get help if needed and remember to stay calm. An angry person is generally someone capable of getting out of control. When an out of control person senses they are intimidating and scaring others, it can increase their sense of power and control, resulting in an escalation of the situation. You must stay calm at all times and recognize when it is important to seek assistance.
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