While attending a recent Verbal Defense and Influence course, Senior Consultant Gary Klugiewicz discussed putting a name and/or face to your “hot button.”
According to Psychology Today, people get angry for one of the following four reasons:
- To harm oneself
- To achieve control
- To feel powerful
- To fight injustice
Personally, I know that the quickest way to get me to see red is for a person to make me feel as if I am being taken advantage of. I experienced this during a recent trip to the grocery store.
I was standing in the seven items or less line when a woman allowed a friend of hers to cut in front of me. As the two began talking, the woman withdrew about twenty-five items from a cart. When she captured the negative vibe from others behind her she added insult to injury by stating loudly, “What the f… are you all looking at?” To which an elderly woman behind me replied, “Someone that has no manners!”
Instantly, the offending party charged at the other leaving me trapped between them. I put on my professional face, brought my hands up in a “whoa” gesture and said, “For your safety and mine, please step back!” The manager saw the woman’s aggressive behavior and advised her to leave the store and that she was not welcome to shop there anymore. Shoppers in and around our aisle began to clap as the woman stormed off.
After I checked out, several customers praised me for keeping my cool, others commented if they were in my shoes they would have “clocked” her. Although I too was initially angry when she had cut in line, I had negated my anger through the imagery of envisioning myself relaxing on my deck drinking a cup of coffee. I began to envision it when I first felt the emotional ping of feeling being taken advantage when the woman first cut in line. By taking the preemptive action of avoiding anger I was better able to respond when the situation threatened to go physical.
One other response that I prefer to use is to not focus on the insult, but rather the self-image of the person wielding it. Keeping your proxemics and personal safety in mind I may say, “Wow, I really didn’t expect to hear that from you.” Another retort that works well is, “Your words may not have offended me, but they may have offended others listening (or watching).” Lastly, if necessary I will enlist the aid of bystander interaction by stating to those observing the conflict, “Does this seem as wrong to you as it does to me?”
I have noticed by not taking the insult personally and focusing the comment to the subject’s behavior rather than my response reduces his/her perceived power during the interaction.
Additionally, here are ten tips to help you control your anger:
- Take a timeout
- Once you are calm express your anger
- Get some exercise
- Think before you speak
- Identify possible solutions
- Stick with “I” statements
- Don’t hold a grudge
- Use humor to release tension
- Practice relaxation skills
- Know when to seek help.
Guy Rossi of Rochester, NY, is a Verbal Defense & Influence consultant and Program Coordinator of Curriculum Development at Monroe Community College. He oversees grant programs on citizen preparedness during disasters. He is also a security consultant for Delta Global Services and the president of Guy Rossi and Associates, LLC. Learn more at grossi.vistelar.com.