This is an excerpt from the book I am writing called, “Living Your Purposeful Life”

Dealing with angry or negative people can be very challenging, because it can be so easy to be sucked into their reality that you then become that person, even in that moment. Think about it, how many times has somebody come up to you and complained about someone or something and you start agreeing with them and start piling on complaints on their complaint? And, you many not even be aware of it. For example, somebody comes and complains about their boss and you start playing one up with them by saying, “that is nothing, my boss…”

On top of that, if you do not want to be in that angry or negative space, and they do not want your help out of this space, what do you do? I know, that sometimes people are in a negative space and they want help out of it, but there are times when they do not want the help you are willing to provide, they want you to have the pity party with them and feel as bad as they do. There is a fine balance here, because sometimes people have to work through that space by themselves and there is nothing you can do about it. I know this space all too well with the loss of my mother several years ago.

But, let’s focus on those people that are angry or negative and it is by their choice and it could just as easily be by their choice that they are not angry or negative. How do you deal with these people? The first decision you have to make is do you want to be dragged into their world, do you want to be angry and negative too? If not, keep reading. If you want to be with them, I am ok with that and the information will be here when you are ready for a different choice.

There are many ways that you can deal with angry or negative people. Here are some of the ways that I deal with them and feel free to share the ways you deal with them.

  • You can ignore or avoid them. If somebody is being angry or negative in your area, you do not have to pay attention to them. For example, I have had times in my house where I am working on something and my wife gets angry at the dog and starts yelling at the dog. I do not have to be involved, she is not asking for my help, so I just keep working and ignore her anger.

  • You can leave. If somebody starts yelling at you. You can leave. If you can, excuse yourself by saying, “I just can not be around you right now. I will be back later after you calm down.” and then leave. Go for a walk, go for a drive, and clear you space(see below on clearing your space).

  • You can ask them to leave. This may be a bit harder than you leaving, but depending on the situation, this may be the best course of action. For example, if there is somebody in the workplace, who is being disruptive, asking them to leave would be a good course of action for the workplace and everybody else there.

  • If somebody is yelling at you, you can yell back at them. I think you have to be careful with this approach as you can easily get caught up in their space, but if you are like me, where I have taken people’s anger for many years, it may surprise them and get them to stop. Again, you have to be careful about getting stuck in the anger space with this approach, but on certain occasions, this has worked well for me and sometimes not.

  • You can laugh at them. Again, like yelling back, you have to be careful with this approach. I was once on a conference call with a customer, who started to yell at me during our conversation. I started to chuckle at what he was saying and then when he said, “I am not mad at you.” I burst out laughing at him and apologized right away saying, “Bob, I am sorry for laughing, but you are yelling at me and you are not mad at me.” It stopped him dead right in his tracks and he apologized for yelling. We were then able to come to a solution to his issue that worked for both him and us.

  • You can listen to them. Sometimes, people just need somebody to listen to them to get their anger out. When listening, actively listen to them by looking at them, nodding your head, saying, “yes” or “ok”. You can ask probing questions, like “and then what did you do?” or “how did they react?” Listen from the point of view of understanding them and their situation from their point of view.

  • You can help them out of their situation. I think this one starts by listening to them and when they are ready, giving them different ways to deal with their situation. Sometimes giving them examples of how you dealt with a similar situation can give them an alternative or lead them to an alternative they could use.

  • If you are stuck, and have to be in the situation with the angry or negative person, focus on your breathing, staying very present with who you are. I like to imagine a rose planted out in front of me. I use the rose to capture the negative energy from the person and sending it into the earth, so that I do not need to deal with it. I can just hear their words and not take on their anger.

So, you have done what you needed to do with somebody that is angry or negative, and now, you are feeling bad. What do you do? Here are some things that you can do.

  • You can call a friend and talk to them. You do not even have to talk about that situation with them, unless you want to, just calling the friend can change your state. If you are going to call and talk to them about the situation, make sure you are calling somebody to help you out of the situation versus keep you there.

  • You can go for a walk in nature and while you are walking, enjoy the nature around you. Breath in the fresh air. Notice the plants and animals. Say hi and smile at the people you pass.

  • You can listen to music. I will put on my headphones and crank up some of my favorite songs. I feel the beat and then I have a hard time not bopping my head or even dancing to the musical beat.

  • You can laugh and you can just laugh without any outside stimulation. Yes, this does seem strange and when you first start laughing, you will think it is silly, but after laughing for a few minutes, it may be hard to stop. If you can not just laugh, find something that will make you laugh.

  • You can find somebody who loves to see you and if you do not have somebody who loves to see you, go find your dog. Your dog is always very happy to see you. Bend down and be happy to see them.

  • You can meditate. There are many ways to meditate, for me, I start by just focusing on my breathing and pulling all my attention to my breathing. It helps me to close my eyes and breath. After calming down, I then imagine I am taking a golden shower and let the golden water wash over me and wash away any of the anger that has come into my space. I then sometimes, think about the connection between my feet and the ground and feel the energy of the earth come into my feet and legs and then my body. I will put together a guided meditation to help you with this.

Keep in mind, dealing with angry or negative people takes practice. If you get dragged into their space and did not want to be, do not be hard on yourself. Take some time to look at the approach you used and see if there is another approach you might have taken. Did you try and listen, but when you listened, you got dragged in. May be, next time, you need to leave. May be, you will come up with a better approach for the next time. Life is a journey, we are all learning. Keep learning.