How Should I Respond To Angry People?

How Should I Respond To Angry People?

How should I respond to angry people? And not just a little angry. But a lot. Like boiling mad to irrational rage? Especially as a Christ-follower. I was confronted with this question in a recent experience that took me by surprise. And here are my thoughts about it.

I was the last car in a line turning left at a traffic light. We all turned on the green arrow although it changed to yellow as I went through. I was in no hurry as I headed towards another light a block away to make another left into a small strip mall.

A short distance from the light I heard the roar of an engine and squeal of tires. In my rearview mirror I saw the incensed, contorted face of a driver tailgating me. He had been waiting to make a right turn on the opposite side of the light and I now gathered, was morally offended by my left hand turn.

So he broke the speed limit to catch up, nearly rear ended me in his haste and now drove recklessly, inches away from rear bumper to teach me a driving lesson. And when I stopped at the red light, he halted inches away from my rear bumper to drive home the point.

I responded in a perfectly calm and reasonable manner by throwing my car in park, jumping out and marching to the driver side window, throwing my hands in the air, and shouting, “What are you doing?”

It was completely reactive and impulsive on my part.

And if a brawny lad got out, it might be a problem. Although in my experience, brawny lads are seldom raging bullies, because they have nothing to prove. And true to form, this aggressive bully switched to victim mode and began video taping me on his phone.

So in case you see me on a social media post, please note my egregious act was making a legal left hand turn at a traffic light. But apparently, this driver on the opposite side of the light knew better.

Since he remained safely in his car, I returned to mine and turned into the strip mall as he now, bravely, continued to tailgate me, steering with one hand and video taping with the other. But drove on when I pulled into a parking space.

And here are some thoughts as I’ve had time to reflect and consider a more Godly response to angry people.

How should I respond to angry people? Maybe by offering compassion

People are on an emotional edge. Overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. Bottled up inside. And hidden so you don’t know who they are, what pressures are internally seething, or when a trivial incident will cause an eruption. Something troubling was already going on in the life of the driver I encountered. I simply triggered the explosion.

But I follow a compassionate God. Who instructs me to share the compassion I’ve received from him with others. It doesn’t mean I’m milk toast. Lay down and let people steam roll me. But to measure my response. And not view them as enemies. But people who are likely struggling. And probably need a friend. I don’t know what’s going on in their life. So maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt.

How should I respond to angry people? Maybe by demonstrating joy

Joy doesn’t mean wearing a dopey grin on my face all day. Telling an angry person I’ll pray for them or have a blessed day. That seems patronizing. But it does include silently asking God for his strength and self-control in the heat of a moment. And the goal to act, rather than react to the other person. Or not respond at all, but merely drive on.

It’s not that I don’t have struggles and bad days. I have both. But joy is a fruit of God’s Spirit. Something I possess in spite of difficult circumstances. And difficult people.

It’s the result of living with hope. Because I know God is faithful to his promise. And as a child of that promise, I see an eternal future which radically changes how I see the present. And a sense of meaning that extends way beyond navigating the turn at a traffic light.

So I can choose joy. To act rather than react. And let God’s strength be revealed in my weakness.

How should I respond to angry people? Maybe by extending grace

Grace is an undeserved pardon. That’s me as a sinner before a holy God. I don’t deserve his love or forgiveness. But he extends it anyway through his grace. And as an unworthy recipient, I’m charged by scripture to extend it to others.

I forget this sometimes. Probably because I so quickly return anger for anger and seek to defend myself. Grace requires a supernatural response. Similar to compassion but so much more. Because compassion leads to understanding and acceptance. But grace leads to eternal life. Because grace is granted by God to all who believe in and follow Jesus Christ.

And that’s another message I can share. But no one will hear it if I’m shouting in anger.

It wasn’t my absolute worst response to an angry person. But through the power of God, I can do better.

Let’s hear your angry story along with thoughts on Godly responses.

About Chip Tudor:

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

Likeable People And Their Nine Qualities

Likeable People And Their Nine Qualities

Likeable people are the ones you want to be around. And while virtually everyone wants to be liked, it seems many people never consider how to be likeable.  

Our digital interconnectedness keeps growing, along with our anxiety, depression, and loneliness. How can we form relationships that are meaningful and lasting?

Let’s start by making sure we are likeable and then helping those we influence to be more likeable as well. Here are nine helpful behaviors to either practice or avoid. Several of these were suggested in an e-mail from my friend, Dick, a retired executive. He gave me permission to use as I wished.

Likeable people are committed listeners

“Reloaders” stop talking long enough to let you speak, but don’t be fooled. They aren’t listening to you, they are just reloading, waiting for your next breath when they will begin talking once again. One of the primary reasons I was attracted to my wife, Judy, is that she is a great listener. She hears what I’m saying and seeks to understand what I mean.  

Likeable people ask genuine questions

Questions are undervalued. You can pump someone for factual information and sometimes that may be needed. You can ask questions that are open-ended and draw the person out. Question-asking is related to listening because as you are sharing your ideas I am able to frame up my next question. I am listening and engaged in what you are saying, rather than merely taking your words as prompts for stating my own views or correcting yours.  

Likeable people follow the norm of reciprocity

There’s a natural give and take to conversation. Earlier in a relationship, people are attracted to those who match one another’s contributions. I ask about your work. You ask about mine. I tell you about my family. You talk about yours. The longer you have known someone and the deeper the relationship, the less that the norm of reciprocity must be followed in each exchange. Contributions still need to even out over time, but one conversation may be dominated by a person without the other feeling the relationship is out of balance.  

Likeable people are self-deprecating to a point

Confidence is attractive. Arrogance is off-putting. Recognition that you are less than perfect and having the ability to laugh at your shortcomings is attractive, but press this too far and people begin to find your apparent insecurity unsettling.

Likeable people are able to laugh

Having a sense of humor is important, but obviously you need to gauge how your humor pairs with that of others. You love Dumb and Dumber; she loves Annie Hall – these are not the same. Even how you laugh may be important. My boisterous laugh has startled babies and led them to cry. Consider your audience and the setting and know when to rein it in and when to let it out.  

Likeable people draw others out so they have the opportunity to fit in

Some people are quiet. While I know Introverts have many thoughts they don’t need to express, I don’t understand this experientially. When in a group, look to draw out those who are quieter by watching for their reactions – evidence they may be wishing to contribute – or by asking a question that is a safe opening into the topic being discussed. Don’t press. Someone may be entirely comfortable listening and isn’t looking for the spotlight to rest on him.

Likeable people don’t overstay their welcome

Benjamin Franklin is credited with the quip: “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” When you are first establishing a relationship, start with small doses rather than trying to discuss everything of interest in a single sitting. Know your audience. Be culturally on time and leave before you must be asked. Better to leave the other person wanting more than hoping to avoid you in the future.  

Likeable people avoid controversy

Until you know someone, stick to safer topics that draw people together. Even among close friends, there are often conversational paths better left unpursued. In a world that says it values complete transparency, just know that sane people don’t (see last month’s newsletter for more on this topic). The goal is to build relationships not to drive away all but those who entirely agree with you. In my case, I would not even be able to talk with myself since I often don’t agree with everything I say.  

A likeable person doesn’t gossip

Gossip erodes trust. It misrepresents the behaviors, views, and ideas of others. It uses people as objects for our enjoyment. Gossip may be juicy, but the fruit you consume is rotten.   Want to be liked? Be likeable. Want to build a work culture people enjoy? Encourage team members to be likeable. Some may need reminders of these nine behaviors to employ or avoid.

About Julian Consulting

Dr. Stephen Julian is President of Julian Consulting, a firm specializing in team health, effective communication, and leadership development. He has worked with leaders and their teams for nearly 30 years in a variety of settings – including Africa, South and Central America.

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