9 Skillful Responses to Anger

Responding Skillfully to Anger

There’s not a person in the world who hasn’t been on the receiving end of someone else’s anger. Some of us more often than others.

While our very natural action urge might be to join them in anger and fire back verbal assaults, doing so doesn’t solve the problem that triggered the anger… and might even make it worse.

When we are on the receiving end of an angry outburst, the goal is to effectively manage the problem in a way that resolves the issues AND maintains the relationship.

Employing skills based in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) makes it more likely we will be successful.


Assume they have a reason that makes sense to them for their upset feelings and listen for what it is. Nod occasionally to show you’re paying attention. Act as if you are open to hearing about their frustration by maintaining a neutral face and a neutral tone of voice.


Feed back what you hear by restating and paraphrasing their feelings.


Shift their attention by using their name and/or calmly asking them to hold on a second. This can pause the attack.


Check facts by using a statement such as, “Let me make sure I understand. You’re saying…”, then repeat what you heard them say. A person will stop to listen if they know that what you are going to say is what they just said.


Eliminate aggressive statements like, “If you’d just let me talk…” Doing so makes the person more irritated.


Use numbers to help them move from their emotional right brain to the logical left brain. Example: “You’re saying, ONE you didn’t get to buy the puppy you wanted; TWO it cost more money than you had and THREE you feel a ton of anger at me for not wanting to buy the puppy for you. Is that correct?”


No need to agree but don’t make them wrong. Say things like, “I’m sure if I was in your place I’d feel the same way.”


Be solution focused. If you can provide help, list the steps you are willing to take in numerical order. Let them know you care about what they are going through and are willing to help them in this way.


Leave if their anger seems threatening or is becoming out of control. You might say, “I can see you’re extremely upset. I will discuss possible solutions when you aren’t so upset.”

If your or your family is in need of additional support, I am here to help.

This information is not a substitute for professional advice from a Medical Doctor, Psychiatrist, or Licensed Counselor. The information provided by www.coachlisabond.com does not constitute legal or professional advice nor is it intended to be.
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Hi, I'm Lisa!

My mission is to provide high quality, evidence-based tools to meet the unique needs of individuals and families who want to create a life worth living, and coaches who want to help others do the same.

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