How to Handle Angry People

How often do you talk to people who seem upset, irritated, or downright angry? Do you clam up and just wish the conversation would end? Do you feel tense or uncomfortable? Do you defend yourself, explain, or apologize? Do you want to run and hide, or just punch something? Well, of course! Dealing with anger is stressful, right?

Not necessarily.

How much more fun would life be if you were relaxed and calm through all the waves of anger that come your way? Read on and discover simple ways you can reduce your stress when dealing with angry people.


When faced with an angry man or woman, the most important and most challenging thing to remember is not to take it personally. Other people’s anger is never about you.

I can hear you now: “Don’t take it personally! How can I do anything but take it personally when someone screams at me, calls me names, and tells me it’s all my fault?”

It can be challenging, but you start learning not to take things personally by understanding this: Everything people do or say comes from a desire to meet their needs or to support something they value.

Everything = Needs and Values.

For example, an angry person may need consideration or value responsibility, and they are doing the best they can to express this.

Let’s imagine an angry young man starting a conversation with the Dalai Lama by saying, “What do you know about suffering or hardships, you’re just a lazy old man with fifty people waiting on you hand and foot! You’re nothing but a fake.”

Now try to imagine the Dalai Lama reacting like most people do, by matching anger with defensiveness and criticism. “Lazy old man!” he says, “You don’t know all the things I do to serve people all over the world, and you have the nerve to call me a lazy old man? Do you even have a job?”

You can imagine where this conversation would go!

Now I have a hard time believing the Dalai Lama would react this way, but why not? What does he know that most other people don’t?

I imagine the Dalai Lama understands how to not take things personally. He understands that what the young man says is all about the young man’s pain and suffering. That he is angry because some of his needs are not being met and he hasn’t been able to find a way to live in harmony with his values.

Remember that everything people do or say is done to meet their needs or in support of something they value.

So the next time you start feeling tense and want to defend yourself or justify your position, STOP and remember that other people’s anger is about them. Don’t take it personally.

Do you want your happiness to depend on other people acting the way you want them to act? Or do you want your happiness to come from responding to life in harmony with what you value?

Another option you have in the face of anger is to just be curious. Ask yourself questions: “WOW, this person is really upset. I wonder what’s going on with them?”

Then imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself: “If I said or did that, what might be going on with me?” See if you can guess.

Handling people’s anger by focusing your attention in these ways can free you from reacting defensively, open the way to understanding, and help you create the kinds of relationships you want in all areas of your life.

“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.”~ Albert Einstein

So remember, stress isn’t your only choice in the face of anger. Knowing that everything people do or say is about their needs and values can help you to not take their anger personally. Remembering this will allow you to relax and explore what’s happening in ways that are in harmony with what you value, rather than being controlled by your environment.

Source: Free Articles from


Co Author: Neill Gibson

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We are Beth Banning and Neill Gibson, founders of Focused Attention. Our mission is to bring you very effective self help and personal development tools, and the skills to use them well. Our passion is to help you build a strong foundation for deeply satisfying relationships in every area of your life.

Find out why over 80% of our clients agree: These courses are extremely effective for building your self acceptance, self esteem, and self confidence. Learn how you can reduce the stress of difficult conversations and problem situations, and accelerate your personal growth and ability to succeed at the same time.

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