How to Handle a Person Who Gets Mad Easily & Stays Mad for a Long Time

Taking physical and emotional space can help protect you from being directly affected by someone else's anger.
... Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Being with someone who has a bad temper can make life really miserable. You may feel like you spend your time walking on eggshells around him, constantly dreading the moments when he will lose his cool and then stay mad. Coping in such a situation may be challenging but it is not impossible. Focus on controlling your own temper while being supportive to your friend.

1 Don’t Take it Personally

Consider that there are underlying issues from which anger stems, such as hurt, guilt, fear, personal insecurities, lack of self-control or feelings of low self-worth, according to "How Can I Deal With My Anger?" on TeensHealth. These can result in your friend's short temper. Therefore, even if something that you do or say seems to trigger her anger, it is probably not directly related to you. Understanding your friend's inner struggles can stop you from feeling insecure and from taking the incidences too personally. If your friend becomes physically violent and tries to hurt others or herself, you may have to seek the guidance of a mature family member or teacher.

2 Keep Your Cool

When a person is mad he usually becomes confrontational, looking for a fight. Approach him calmly and peacefully. Take deep breaths and try to relax before confronting him. If he is yelling, then speak softly. Suggest that you talk when he is calmer. If he wants to get physical, then walk away. When you tune out the person who is mad, you take the power by creating emotional and physical space, suggests clinical psychologist Nadia Pershun in the article, "How to Switch Off An Angry Person,” on the Psych Central website. You will also be encouraging him to calm down as well.

3 Make Room For Venting

Once a person gets upset, you need to give her some time for calming down before trying to directly engage her in conversation. She will need about 20 minutes to simmer down, says professor of law enforcement, John Schafer, Ph.D. in the article, “Controlling Angry People,” on Psychology Today. Approach your friend with empathy. Tell her you are sorry she is feeling upset. Allow her to express what she is feeling in words as she talks about what made her mad. Show her that you are listening by maintaining good eye contact or nodding. Find something to agree with her about. Listen to her excuses. Eventually she will relax and no longer be explosive.

4 Be Compassionate

Show your friend that you will not join in when he gets mad and decides to stay mad. Be kind, caring and respectful to him while he is in a state of anger. Share with him, or lend a helping hand when it is obvious that he needs it. Your acts of compassion can help to relieve the stress that being around an angry person can make you feel, according to the article “What is Compassion,” on the Greater Good website. You will also be showing your friend an alternative to staying mad by modeling calm and loving behavior for him.

Latoya Newman is a novelist who wrote and published her first novel in 2012. She has a background in education, research and counseling. She taught at the elementary level for eight years, and has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.