How to Stay Calm When People Are Yelling at You

Remaining calm and not reacting when someone is yelling at you can become a habit.
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A person who is yelling at you is expressing his anger in an aggressive manner. While your initial instinct may be to defend yourself by yelling back, that only serves to escalate the situation. You can remain calm and bring the situation under control without resorting to a shouting match.

1 Keep Your Composure

Don't attempt to problem solve in a rational manner with someone who is yelling at you. Anger engages the fight/flight mechanism and it takes about 20 minutes for someone to calm down and process information effectively, says John R. Schafer, Ph.D., behavioral analyst for the FBI. He recommends using empathic statements to allow the person to express his anger without getting caught up in it. For example, on your shift as a cashier in a department store an angry customer begins to yell at you about the price of a pantsuit. You respond, "You feel the store has issued an unfair price. Please give me a minute and I'll see what I can do for you. Okay?"

2 Change Your Thoughts

You'll likely feel compelled to defend yourself when someone is yelling at you. Because you feel threatened, your survival instincts kick in and you're more likely to want to respond with aggressive behavior. Tell yourself that you are in control, while you change your thoughts to something positive like your best friend, the exam you aced or your new puppy. Changing your focus can make you laugh or smile. It will likely prevent you from reacting in a negative manner.

3 Clear the Fog

Your mind may go blank, making it hard to think when someone is yelling at you. To counteract this, have questions to ask yourself. Ask yourself, "What are two reasons he is acting out?" suggests Steven Stosney, a Maryland-based therapist. This gives you time to deflect his aggression and brainstorm how you are going to deal with the situation.

4 Relaxation Techniques

Being yelled at can trigger your own angry feelings. Using relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, mantras or imagery can help you to remain calm and in control. Words like, "I am okay" or "Relax" can help you to calm yourself before responding to the person who is yelling at you. The American Psychological Association recommends picturing your breath coming up from your stomach to gain the full benefit of deep breathing. Remaining calm in these situations can keep a full blown argument from erupting.

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.