Do You Avoid Someone If They Are Mad? There’s A Better Way…

avoiding someone who is mad

Your boss is mad. Your friend is really hurt. Or your spouse is going to chew you out. And you don’t want to hear it.

What do you do?

Good question – most of us don’t know what to do.

So we avoid. We put off the interaction as long as possible as if in doing so, somehow the person will forget they were mad and things will get back to normal. Really? Not very likely! Ok, so it is possible you manage to avoid them long enough so they aren’t as mad or they just bury it–if you are lucky–but that only means they will be madder the next time an issue arises between you (which now really means you are unlucky!)

The next likely scenario is you do interact and handle it poorly or really bad. You either shut down, or you react back, barely even giving time for the person to say what they want to say. And things only go from bad to worse. Words are shot back and forth, no one really listens, and someone just walks away saying “whatever.” At the end, there are no winners, only two losers.

There’s a better way. Not necessarily easier–at least at first–but still a much better way.

You must keep the principles of PLEDGEtalk uppermost in mind:

Pause. Do this even if you have just a few moments. Take a deep breath and get your emotions under control.

Listen. Determine to understand the one speaking to you. They are mad or hurt for some reason. Your goal is to find out why.

Echo. When they are done talking or ranting and raving, echo back what you heard them say. I know this feels really hard to do because you want to tell him/her a thing or two. DON’T! Trust me. Instead, echo back what was said and then move on to the next principle.

Disarm. Take the next few moments to reflect on what the person said and seek to validate them. I am not saying agree with them. I am saying to communicate in some way that you can see their point of view. You understand why they were hurt or mad.

THEN —  get quiet. Don’t say another word. I know you want to defend your side; you want to explain your point of view; you want to tell them where they are wrong and why. DON’T! Again, trust me. Just remain quiet. I know this too is really hard. But you must do it. This will disarm him/her from having to argue any further. Why would they? You have already shown them that you understand and even expressed how you can see their point of view. They know longer have any reason to fight. You will have effectively disarmed the conflict.

But what about what you have to say? I know that is the next question that goes through your mind. It has gone through mine on many occasions. What do we do with what’s going on inside our head at the time?

Consider this: I can’t make someone listen to me, and you can’t either.

What we can do is show someone dignity by listening to them. And when we do, and do it to the best of our ability, it greatly increases the chances that they might be willing to listen to us. Shout back to them what you think, tear them down with your words, act as if they don’t have a brain–and just watch how things escalate.

It won’t work. You cannot force someone to hear or agree with what you have to say.

Instead, when someone comes at us who is angry or hurt, we must listen, echo back, recognize their point of view and then get quiet. There is no other way.

The last two steps of the PLEDGEtalk process are Give and Engage. After having listened, echoed, and validated their perspective, and followed that up with being quiet, this might be the best opportunity you will have to share your view on the matter. I say might because again you cannot make anyone listen to you.

But you may be surprised.

Give. If you have done your part well up to this point, they may ask you if you have any thoughts to share. And if they don’t, ask them if they are willing to hear your thoughts. With their permission, you now give your perspective. Be as respectful as you can. It is not your turn to attack or wound with your words even though that might be exactly what they did to you. Instead, when voicing your concerns, demonstrate the same kind of dignity you have throughout the conversation.

Engage. The word engage is a reminder to practice using these principles not only when a conflict occurs like we’ve just described, but all the time. It is in fact a challenge for you and I to create a culture of treating those around us with dignity in the way we communicate with them. The more people around us feel valued because of the way we speak with them, the richer our relationships will become, and the more successful we will be at navigating the waves of conflict that inevitably wash over each of us from time to time.

I wrote this post because of overhearing a woman speak about how difficult her experience was working at a call center.

Daily she was barraged with angry people on the other end of the line. Listening to her made me want to be sure I did better the next time I was one of those people! No doubt it is a tremendous challenge to work at such a place. Still, as difficult as it may be, keeping in mind the PLEDGEtalk principles as described above can make or break someone’s experience even in such a harsh and often negative environment such as this.

No one relishes the thought of facing someone who is angry or hurt, whether it is on the phone, through a text, or in person. With practice however, accompanied by a guide like PLEDGEtalk and the goal of treating others with dignity, we can once again restore peace in our relationships.

(Get our FREE infographic HERE that explains all of PLEDGEtalk! It’s a must!)

Of all the steps of PLEDGEtalk, which one are you most challenged by and why?  I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below:

(Photo source)

3 replies
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      You are not the only one Caroline! I think we all might have that same tendency – and yet Pausing is really the most crucial step of all. When we Pause to shift our focus to think first of the other person, it sets us up for a much better outcome with the entire PLEDGEtalk process.


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