Angeline M. Bishop shares some strategies for dealing with difficult people.
In my novel South Beach, Laila has to deal with her best friend Sofìa’s anger because both women have strong views about relationships. Things get so heated, their friendship suffers and seems unsalvageable.
Dealing with angry people can be extremely debilitating and exhausting. Without any doubt – anger brings an enormous amount of suffering. Here are a few strategies for dealing with difficult people, organized around what’s driving their anger: fear and need for control.
Disengage and don’t take it personally
Just as most animals attack out of self-defense, hunger or other biological needs, human anger also is goal-driven. Most people, even most violent individuals, don’t walk around the majority of the day attacking and abusing others. They lash out in spurts.
Remember threatening individuals commonly are overwhelmed and scared, so most bullies have deeply hurt and vulnerable cores.
Avoid ego battles and flashbacks
Some people are willing to put their life on the line and injure another person physically or emotionally to protect their ego and restore their injured self-esteem. Inflated egos are most vulnerable to the slightest pokes and scratches, which is a common infliction of defensive and confrontational people.
Remember that ego injuries always have roots in events of the past. This is why most angry people, when they are arguing, will bring up past occasions. Therefore, at all costs, avoid discussing with them about who did what, when and why, and how it made them feel, but repeatedly ask how they propose solving this problem now.
Remember also that most angry people have a victim mentality. They perpetually believe the world owes them something and other people should fulfil their needs. What angry people are narrowly focused, entitled, and prone to listening only to themselves.
Choose peace and saneness
An angry person is always looking for a fight, through their escalation and unfair accusations, they are asking you to engage. So you need to be a cool-headed person. You can’t indulge them in any action. When they shout, you keep silent or speak softly. When they come close, you increase the distance. When they say a lot, you say nothing or very little. Some people think these actions will make them appear like a loser and a bully as the winner. This is contrary to what actually happens. You win by disengaging. You become untouchable and gain control by increasing emotional and physical space.
Imagine this situation: You are on the highway and the driver in front of you drives dangerously and erratically, swaying wildly sideways, speeding up and pressing the brakes, honking randomly. Should you catch up, open up your window and attempt a discussion on proper driving? No, you should shift lanes and drive away and demonstrating your intelligence and preference for safety. De-escalate the angry person in a similar manner, by exiting the scene emotionally or physically, not participating in their drama.
Defuse them with kindness
Raging people often are in dire need of empathy and calmness. A big part of their anger is driven by their belief or feeling that they’re always misunderstood. So, despite the obnoxious behavior, loud shouting, screeching voices, clenching fists, pointing fingers, red faces and all, most angry people have a sad message. Most likely they are trying to tell you that they are feeling hurt, ignored, disrespected, unappreciated and unloved.
Listening and responding to these needs calmly and emphatically can serve as the key to getting more cooperation from emotionally agitated people. Just offer some reflective listening, validating their concerns to an extent. Do not assign any blame or argue. Establish a basic premise for peace by appealing in some way to the healthier side of their personality by extending to them some sense of grace and validation.
Remember that everything people do or say is done to meet their needs or in support of something they value and they are doing the best they can. So the next time you start feeling tense and want to defend yourself or justify your position with an angry person, STOP and remember that other people’s anger is always about them.
In South Beach, Laila Sheridan, a successful fashionista who attracts male interest with an effortless strut of her stiletto heels, has ended a rocky relationship with Malcolm Khalid, a captivating lothario with a passion for shirking adult responsibilities. She believes partying in glamorous South Beach with her former college roommates is the prescription for getting her swagger back.
When her vacation becomes a media circus that draws Malcolm back into her life and her handsome psyche marketing colleague, Gray Ryley, arrives on the scene to tame her antics, Laila is determined make the men play by her rules. Gray finds himself torn between anguish and ecstasy when another Lalia-sitting assignment is placed in his hands; he’s asked to hinder Malcolm’s advances and subdue the paparazzi, while wrestling with his smouldering desire to get Laila in his bed.
Angeline M. Bishop writes contemporary romance fiction. She was born in Washington, D. C., but lived most of her life in New Jersey. Her childhood passion for writing led to a degree in English Literature and a membership in Romance Writers of America. Aside from writing her own novels and blogging, Angeline is the Vice President of the Cultural, Interracial, and Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America and enjoys helping authors strengthen their craft. She co-hosts the AMB Talk Radio podcasts each Fall with her pop-culture loving, college-aged daughter. And she’s the founder of the AMB Ovation Awards (The Angie) which provides honor and recognition of authors’ outstanding achievements in the multicultural romance literary profession. South Beach, the second novel in the Sheridan Series, will soon be following by Wild West and Big East.