Whether your friend is angry at you or some situation that arose during her day, prepare yourself to tackle the issues alongside her. In some cases, you may feel the temptation to tune her out or shout back in self-defense, but these reactions will only complicate the situation. Instead, take a wiser approach and learn a few strategies to defuse her anger. Whether you’re just friends or dating, these strategies will help the two of you avoid a rocky relationship and perhaps even gain a better understanding of each other.
Manage your own anger. Responding with a raised voice or insults will only escalate her anger, so it is your job to manage your own temper. Take deep breaths until you feel you are calm and under control.
If she is receptive to any advice, suggest that you go for a walk. Even light physical activity can help ease negative emotions, such as anger or fear, so having a discussion as you stroll can help lead to a faster resolution.
Allow her to vent without arguing back. Anger impairs a person's ability to process information in a logical way, according to a "Psychology Today" article by retired FBI behavioral analyst John R. Schafer, Ph.D., entitled "Controlling Angry People." With this in mind, resist the urge to interrupt with rational arguments.
See things from her perspective. Even if the anger is directed at you, put your own views aside for a while and try to understand her concerns. When a person displays anger, it is often due to a feeling of powerlessness coupled with frustration, according to the Eastern Washington University Access article "Defusing Anger in Others."
Acknowledge her concerns with active listening techniques, even if you don’t agree with what she is saying. Ask open-ended questions and then paraphrase or try to verbally relate in order to show that you comprehend her message. Be careful not to dominate the conversation with your responses.
Unite against a problem. Whether her problem is with your obnoxious behavior or a traffic ticket, now is the time to work toward a solution. If you were at fault, admit your shortcomings; however, if you are still at odds on a specific issue, seek a calm compromise. If the problem is out of your control, focus on ways to cope. Otherwise, brainstorm a solution together.
- Avoid the phrases “relax” or “calm down.” These will indicate to your friend that you believe she is out of control and not worth listening to.
- Watch your body language. Closed body language, such as folded arms across your chest or averted eyes, can make you seem resistant or uncaring, even if you are actively listening.
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