7 Steps on How to Respond to an Angry Person

Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones But Words Will Always Hurt MeRemember the childhood saying about sticks and stones?  As we all eventually learn, words can cut us to the core.

Have you ever been angry with someone and lashed out with hurtful words or actions you wished you could take back?

Have you noticed that sometimes it is the people closest to us are the first to catch the worst of our anger?  Whether it be a spouse, your child, or a close friend. 

Over the weekend, Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, addressed the topic of anger in relationships as he ministered to 150 couples who were attending our military marriage retreat weekend. (Click here to see pictures from the weekend.) 

Anger can be an issue in any marriages, but because of the unique nature of military marriages with long periods of separation and sometimes very little communication, this emotion rears its ugly head all too often.   In an effort to provide helpful tools that can be applied to any relationship, Dr. Chapman shared the following 7 steps on how to respond to an angry person:

1. Listen to the person who is angry.  Hear them out.  Just LISTEN.  James 1:19 tells us,  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.  Try to remember that the person who is angry with you is angry because, in their mind, you did wrong.  You will never get to the root of the issue until you listen and find out what is/has bothered the angry person.

2. Listen to the person who is angry.  Yes, we are repeating step 1–that’s how important it is!  In most cases, people don’t hear most of what was said the first time.  In the heat of the moment, angry word poured it out to you, but you didn’t hear it all.

3. Listen to the person who is angry.  Are you starting to get the gist of how important listening is?  Listen at least 3 times.  The issue will not be resolved until the angry person has been very clearly heard.

4. Seek to understand the angry person.  Put yourself in their shoes and try to see the world through their eyes.  You cannot have a proper understanding until you understand where they are coming from.

5. Express understanding to the angry person.  Try a statement like this: “If I were in your shoes, I’m sure I would be angry also.”   6. Share additional information.  You can now give your perspective on the situation.  The benefit of this step is that through this process you are teaching others how to respond to an angry person. (This is also an excellent way to model healthy communication in front of your children.)

7. Confess any wrongdoing.   Admit your wrongdoing if they have a legitimate reason for their anger.  This step will also build trust.  It’s a big step for most people to admit when they are wrong.

Active-duty, Guard and Reserve military service-members can attend seminars, concerts and retreats at The Cove at no costClick here for more information.

Click here to see what’s going on at The Cove in the coming months.