8 Tips For Diffusing Anger In Others

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​In a previous article, we discussed 10 tips for managing anger within yourself. In this article, we're going to discuss several tips you can use to diffuse anger in others.

We all deal with angry people at various times in life, from an angry customer to an angry colleague to an angry spouse or family member. And, if you don't know how to respond, it's easy to make the situation worse.

It's an incredibly important skill to develop. First, you can prevent a harmful incident. Second, if you can get through another's anger, it's possible to solve underlying problems and potentially build better relationships. Third, by learning to diffuse anger rather than trying to come over the top of it, you're breaking the "escalation cycle" that can cause a lot of harm (physically and/or emotionally) to you and others. And, don't overlook that you're potentially setting a new, positive example to those around you.

Also, note that there are different types of anger, from passive-aggressive anger to withdrawing to all out rage. In this article, we'll be dealing mostly with how to deal with aggressive and possibly threatening behavior.

**And, if you're in the Durham (or the greater Triangle area of NC), keep in mind that at KKJ we offer counseling and coaching for anger management. Please reach out and we'll be happy to help.

  • Priority One: Stay Safe
    In any situation where you think you might be in any kind of danger, trust your instincts and leave the situation immediately. Summon help if possible. Yes, this article is about "diffusing" anger, but in some cases it's not possible and you need to focus first on keeping yourself out of harm's way.
  • Check In With Yourself And Your Own Emotions
    Responding to an angry person with a calm demeanor is easier said than done, of course, but it's essential to avoid an escalation of the situation. If you respond to an angry person with anger, the results can often be explosive. Instead, keeping your cool shows the other person you are not a threat to them and you aren't looking for any trouble.
  • Show Empathy
    Let them know you care about them and about their feelings. Even if you don't totally agree with the reason for the anger, in the heat of the moment, let them know you understand why they might be angry. We all want our feelings validated, and showing empathy can have a major calming effect.
  • Show Respect
    Along with empathy, if you can show the other person that you respect them and their feelings, it can make a huge difference in cooling things off. After all, one of the main reasons people get angry is to try to change the behavior of someone else. If they feel respected, that's not as likely.
  • Allow Them To Vent
    When someone is angry, it triggers their fight or flight response. This means a person's system stops thinking completely rationally and they tend to be more reactionary. This isn't the time to work things out or get to the root of the issue. You want to encourage them to get their feelings "out", but not in a violent or insulting way. One way to do this is by using effective questioning techniques, below...
  • Use Effective Questioning Techniques
    Try to get the other person to explain why they're angry by encouraging them to explain how they feel. Don't interrupt or give your opinion. Just keep asking questions and digging deeper into the issue. Also, try to use active listening techniques as well. In other words, you would respond with "so, I understand you feel angry about X and Y, is that right?" Keep doing that, with a calm voice, until they've calmed down.
  • Determine If You Played A Role And Take Responsibility
    Once a person has calmed down, which can often take 20 or more minutes after the outburst, it might be possible to turn the anger into a positive by getting to the root of the underlying issue. If you played a role or are somehow responsible, try to calmly take responsibility and apologize for your role. With that said, while you may have played a role, that doesn't always justify an angry response and it's possible to take responsibility for your role while also (calmly) communicating that you didn't appreciate the response.
  • Is The Problem Habitual?
    If you are dealing with a partner, family member, or colleague who has a habitual anger problem, you may want to communicate the ways in which it's affecting you and then suggest that they seek out professional help.

More Information On Dealing With Anger Issues:
If you're in the Durham (or Chapel Hill, RTP, Raleigh) area and would like to learn more about how we can help you, we invite you to call or setup an appointment by contacting our office.


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Dr. Katrina Kuzyszyn-Jones

At KKJ, we focus on the specific problems that affect your daily life, using well-known, evidence-based techniques. While techniques are important, authenticity, warmth, and empathy are integral for people to flourish in, and outside of, counseling. You are a whole person—mind, body, spirit - with strengths, and weaknesses. Let us help you form a stronger family, decrease stress, enhance your relationships, find meaning in your life, and realize overall greater health and well-being.

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