Healthcare Training: Stay Calm When Anger Knocks



Emotions are neither right nor wrong. They just are. But it's how we deal with them and the actions we take from them. So, when somebody is screaming at us, you got a bully boss or somebody is rude to us, an explosive person we say, “Look, this person is having a problem.” You take this inside, “And I'm not going to let his anger or his dysfunction disturb me. I'm going to deal with the problem rationally.”

We have to do that because if he is angry and then you get angry now you got two people shouting at each other. That doesn’t work very well. So, how do you express yourself to someone who is angry? It could be your boss. It could be your co-worker.

So, there are few things that seem to work. That is first of all, what's the problem? You identify it. You say, “I need your help. My weekly report is late.” And specify those affected by it, “Because it's late, my boss can’t project his cost analysis.”

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Imagine that someone has come in to your office and screaming at you that you didn’t get your report on time or you're pushing to get them to do a report when you don't want to do it. But you would say, “Look, I need your help. I know the production report is late and I need you to help me get this ready because when it's late my boss can’t project her cost analysis rates.” And then, how serious this is, “When we’re late, she questions our ability to perform our jobs so I need to resolve this for this reason. So, would you please help me do this?”

If you need to do it more slowly, go over it a period but to say to the person, “You're incompetent. You better do this or I'm going to get somebody else to force you do it,” it’s not going to help it. So, identify, specify, say how difficult, ask for the help seems to be a better way to get what you want.

So, in a longer range now we’re going to take look at how do we deal with another person’s angry energy? Well, first of all, remember that their energy originates the same way yours does. In other words, there are feelings involved. They have typically suppressed the feelings or are not aware of them. They haven’t realized what those feelings are like and so they go right to the anger. So, we kind of want to talk about things like - I'm going to give you some suggestions. “I understand how you feel. You must feel awful. I don't blame you for doing that.”

But realize that their anger originates the same way. The difference is that you’ve learned to handle your anger in one way and typically, they’ve handled theirs in other way, which probably isn't very productive, okay?

Next thing as mentioned by our  expert in a healthcare conference, think about what you want to say before you say it. And you’ve heard the phrase, count to five, count to ten. It's the pause instead of coming right back with a response, pause. Then the person say, “Come on. What do you want? What do you want to do?” Just pause.

And you may want to say, “I am a little upset right now. I am a little confused. Before I answer you, I want to take a few minutes to think this thing through. So, I'm going to call you in ten minutes.” So, what you're doing is deliberately taking a pause and you're choosing the time to plan how you’ll respond. You're taking a look at your own emotions so when you come back with that person even though that person maybe screaming.

So, think about what you want to say before you say it. Because once you say it, you can't take it back especially if they're shouting at you and they're being rude and inconsiderate and putting you down.


Third step, acknowledge their anger. Say things like, “I’m going to understand why you're angry. I don't blame you. I can see you're pissed. I can see you're upset.” And pause. In other words, sometimes just use anger as a weapon. Well, we want to bring down the hassle.

Our expert recommended in one of the management audio conferences that you must Wait for a response and then make an empathy statement, “I don't blame you for feeling that way. You know, you're right. We should have report done on time and I should have come earlier to you. You’re absolutely right. And the company is - it looks like we’re being unreasonable by asking for this. You're absolutely right.”

So, you try to see things from their point of view and again, wait for a response and try to willing to agree with the content issue, “You're right. This does seem like a silly report to do. I agree with you at the same time, we need to get the report done.”


Then we say, “Well, maybe we can ask for permission?” So, if you ask a question you say things like, “(Mary), can I ask you a question?” So, you're asking for permission. By doing that, you make the other person feel more powerful, of course when you do that you are the one who’s really more powerful, “Can I make a suggestion?” It's unlikely the person is going to say, “No, you can't make a suggestion. I don't – No, you cannot. I'm going to speak here. I want to sit here and shout.


But you better say, “Can I ask you a question?” And so, they usually say yes and then you make a suggestion. You might say, “How does that feel? What do you think about that?” And then try to end the meeting which you have an action step with. Summarize, “Well, here’s the problem we’ve had. Here’s what we have talked about. Here’s what we’ve agreed to do. And you said that you're going to try to get the report to me by 10:00 o’clock. I'm going to have to finish by 12:00. We can both look at it by 1:00 o'clock and will be back in the mail by 2:00 o'clock.”


So, the idea is try to the treat the other person as a partner and that again is a key. Whenever we treat the other person as the enemy, there is a problem. So, always try to treat the other person as a partner if someone disagrees with you.


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