How Asking the Right Questions Can Help You Deal With an Angry Person
Dealing With an Angry Person: Page 2
Solicit what the angry person wants from you.
What this sounds like: "What is it you want or need right now?" "How can I help you?" "How do you envision the outcome of this in terms of what I could do?"
Why it helps: Most anger develops when the person perceives the world (or situation) as unfair, according to Sultanoff. "Anger is generating energy to get the unfair thing fixed," he says. Sometimes the anger stems from a perceived wrong: You or someone else did (or is perceived as having done) something upsetting -- forgot a birthday, broke a prized possession. Sometimes, though, the anger stems from a bigger sense of being wronged -- the person lost a job, his or her partner left, or he or she has a tough medical diagnosis, for example.
But nobody wants to listen to endless ranting. So cut to the chase by moving the conversation (even if it's mostly one-sided barking, so far) to a more proactive realm. Basically you're saying, in a nice way, "So what do you want me to do about it?"