I regularly receive emails on people facing a difficult and confrontational person – perhaps a family member, a neighbour, a colleague, a client, a stranger, a boss and more.
You may have contact with the person frequently, occasionally or just once. They can leave a mark, such as feeling hurt or distressed by their behaviour,
Problematic personas carry unresolved stress and anger, which gets dumped on you. You may find yourself on the receiving of abuse and aggression.
You may be on the receiving end of a pushy, demanding person trying to get their own way.
It is not easy to stay calm, unruffled with a steadfast equanimity.
You may face accusations, rejection, attacks face to face, on the phone or written abuse.
The Angry Person
It is important to remember that the anger in the mind of an individual dominates their perceptions. Anger engages in the production of fake news, lies, projections and distortions. Anger gives a sense to the person of being alive and having a cause to promote. There is also a deep-rooted need for attention.
The angry type may not like another so will engage in backbiting. gossip, exaggerating the past and saying things to get the person angry as well.
The person on the receiving end of the lies/projections gets angry. A shouting match starts. The person subjected to the lies/projections has played into the hands of the angry individual. The angry one has got the attention they craved. It doesn’t matter that the angry person started the gossip. Witnesses will only see the shouting match. They will not see any differences between the two people. And they are right. There are no differences in anger.
In the inflammation of anger, there is no imagination. Two people or more mirror the same angry behaviour. If you believe someone makes you angry, it means you have handed over your mind on a plate and obediently done what they want you to do – get angry. After the angry bout, the one who started the fake news can rightfully claim what an angry person their foe is. The angry type gets a lot of satisfaction in their capacity to wind somebody up.
You have to use use your imagination to deal with the angry person. You do not contract. You do not engage in a passive response. You respond in a creative and constructive way. It also means you do not sink their level of anger of filled with abuse, name and threatening.
Getting angry, crying or being arguementative will give the angry person a sense of triumph. This will feed their angry mindset. The pressure will build up and the anger will then land on another to fulfill the craving for attention.
The capacity to handle the angry type with calm, clarity and authority has power to it. Be aware of when, how, where you will exercise your calm authority. Choose your moment. 1-1? 1-1 with a witness? 1-1 with a group listening? Spoken/Written? Talk about it first with others? Develop a strategy. Be precise with what you are going to say or write. Make sure it is factual. Is it a statement or a questions? You are neither polite nor rude.
Ten Responses when Facing a Difficult Persona
1. All forms of guidance or support from you require the motivation of such a person to listen or read your guidance. If you do not sense their motivation, your kind words will not reach him or her.
2. Personal attacks have no justification and often baseless. Equanimity matters in challenging situations. You do not have to put pressure on yourself to be kind and compassionate. Let such expressions of the heart arise naturally at some point.
3. Avoid giving advice or even intimating advice. If you are a teacher/carer of any kind, you may want to help. Speak what is true without trying to fix it for the other.
4. Take three mindful breaths before you respond to their reactivity.
5. Keep the voice lower than their voice and choose your words carefully.
6. Wait overnight before replying to an abusive email
7. Invite the person to contact you when their anger has subsided.
8. Keep spoken and written response brief. There is power in a precise, thoughtful, non-judgemental response.
9. Advise the person if you do not wish to respond any longer. I regard three responses as the maximum.
10. Reflect on any such situation as a preparation for the next time.
Such situations test us. Be careful not to draw conclusions about yourself if you also get reactive or the mind gets sticky around what happened.
Wisdom and insights dissolve stuck impressions.