It’s been a long time since anyone was angry with me. Last week, I was accused of something that made no sense. The person kept yelling at me while I kept trying to understand the problem. The more I tried to explain, the louder my friend became. I tried to ask a couple of questions, and she refused to answer. It was at that point I also realized she had been drinking.
This woman considers herself a professional and a friend. I was doing okay until my primitive “fight/flight” response kicked in. As a small child, it seemed like I was always defending myself against ‘the big kids.’ I wasn’t a ‘flight’ kid; I was a ‘fight’ kid. Since then I’ve tempered my ways except for a brief altercation with a guy trying to rob my bank deposit about 20 years ago. I know the police said I was crazy, but I kept the bag and gave the guy a broken nose.
Back to my story. “Enough is enough,” were my exact words. I said I was done listening and was hanging up. I was fuming and felt violated, powerless to fix the problem and threatened. I was trying to discuss the problem logically, but I realized she was enjoying her anger, and I was beginning to feel my own anger. I decided there was no need to allow her to enjoy her confrontation.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog on who’s pushing your buttons? Because of this, I received a call asking me if I might do a seminar on the topic. On Thursday, I’m doing a customer service seminar on “Is Someone or Something Pushing Your Buttons?” If you’re in the retail business, you’ve no doubt experienced the wrath of an angry customer.
As I recall my experience last week, it was obvious that I had somehow pushed her buttons, and now she was pushing mine.
I’ve had enough training to know that anger generally covers up scare, and the angry person is typically in the protection mode. It was obvious that the person yelling was frightened but was not going to admit to that. You see anger often makes people feel dominant because it raises endorphin levels. That’s why anger is such a powerful drug. The term endorphin rush is sometimes used in normal speech to refer to a feeling of wellness caused by exercise, danger or stress.
IF YOU CAN, RELAX!
Another term which is commonly used is runner’s high. It refers to the feeling being ‘full of energy and wellness’ after exercise. It is commonly said that the “high” is a result from the release of bigger amounts of endorphins in the body during the exercise. However, some scientists think this feeling is caused by the challenge rather than the endorphin release.
I decided to write her a letter, focusing on the issues and explaining that things were fine. I also told her I hoped that my explanation would alleviate her fears. Would she acknowledge she was fearful? At this point, it’s off my plate.
What do you do? If you can remember the angry person is feeling threatened, it will help you not get drawn into a battle. If you can get them to relate to that you have a chance. If they continue to yell, they’re obviously enjoying what they’ve created, and it may be hard to intervene.
ANGER IS A COMPLICATED EMOTION!
Anger is a powerful and complicated emotion and rarely if ever justified. The key is finding a way not to be drawn into the battle.
I’m interested to know how you handle angry people.
Lisbeth helps businesses build loyal customers through customer service and sales strategies. She also teaches a class called “Powerful Communication Skills.” For more information and to hire Lisbeth, she can be reached at [email protected].