Responding to angry people

By Dave Henning / July 27, 2016

Dr. Gary Chapman suggests seven steps for responding to angry people in Chapter 13 (“Confronting an Angry Person”) of Anger.  Dr. Chapman discusses the first three steps in today’s blog;

1.  Listen. You validate an angry person by listening to his story.  Once you’ve heard the story, ask him to repeat it.  As a result, you get the gist of the angry person’s story and the heart of why he’s angry.

2.  Listen.  After hearing the story for the second time, ask additional questions designed to clarify the situation.  Consequently, the angry person begins to sense that you take her seriously.  Furthermore, you sincerely want to understand what happened.  Therefore, condemnation doesn’t factor into the conversation.

3.  Listen.  Dr. Chapman urges listening at least three times before giving a response.  In this third round of listening, the angry person scrapes up the remaining details, making sure you get the whole story.  The angry person needs a minimum of three rounds to address all of his concerns.

Responding to someone’s anger before thoroughly hearing the story compounds that person’s anger rather than diffusing it.  Angry people express anger to you for one of two reasons:

  • you are involved
  • the angry person believes you can help

Listening to an angry person respects her right to be angry.  In addition, treat that person as you’d want to be treated if your anger needed to be addressed.  As Gary states, “listening paves the pathway to understanding.”

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”- Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

Today’s question: What do you think of the first three steps for responding to angry people?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The pathway to understanding”

About the author

Dave Henning

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