One of the most important things to understand about anger is that it’s fundamentally different from aggression. Anger is an emotion that is typically characterized by feelings of frustration, annoyance, or hostility in response to a perceived threat, injustice, or frustration – it is the emotion we feel when we believe we’ve been wronged.
Further, it is a natural and normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time, and can be triggered by a variety of situations, such as feeling threatened or disrespected, experiencing unfairness, or feeling overwhelmed by a situation. It can also physically affect the body, such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
Aggression, on the other hand, is how anger can manifest itself and generally refers to behavior that is intended to harm or injure another person or object. While anger can sometimes lead to aggression, it is not always the case. Anger can be expressed in a healthy and constructive way, such as by using communication and problem-solving skills to address the underlying issues, while aggression is almost always destructive and harmful to others.
Most of us are not actually afraid of other people’s anger; we’re afraid of their aggression and what it might lead to. When anger and aggression are broken down this way, we are better prepared to deal with both.
As noted, anger is a normal emotion, however, it is important to manage it in a healthy way, as uncontrolled or excessive anger can lead to aggression and have negative consequences on personal relationships, physical health, and mental well-being.
There are various techniques and strategies that can be used to manage anger in a healthy way, such as deep breathing exercises, physical activity, communication and problem-solving skills, and seeking support from others.
But how do you manage other people’s anger? It can be a challenging task, but there are some techniques that can help you navigate these situations:
Stay calm: When someone is angry, it is important to remain calm and composed. It will only escalate the situation if you also get angry or emotional.
Listen actively: Show that you are paying attention and validate their feelings. Let the person express their anger and try to understand their perspective.
Empathize: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the situation from their point of view. This can help you understand why they are feeling angry and can also help defuse the situation.
Don’t take it personally: Remember that the person’s anger is not directed at you personally, but rather at the situation. Try not to take it personally and don’t become defensive.
Set boundaries: While it is important to listen and validate the person’s feelings, it is also important to set boundaries and not allow the person to become verbally or physically abusive (our practice-wide book club choice, Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, is a great tool for this).
Problem-solve: Once the person has calmed down, work together to find a solution to the issue at hand. This can help prevent the same situation from happening again in the future.
Remember that managing other people’s anger is not always easy, and sometimes it may be necessary to seek the help of a professional mediator or counselor if the situation becomes too difficult to manage on your own.
Disclaimer: All blog posts are intended for educational purposes and cannot replace direct consultation with a professional. Please feel free to check our provider page for more information on our team of talented clinicians who can help you identify and challenge your negative thought patterns.