The Best Ways to Deal with Negativity and Anger from Others

This is an issue that many of us deal with on a daily basis. If you’ve ever said something loud enough for other people to hear, then there’s a good chance someone has disagreed with you. That’s a good thing. If you spend your entire life tiptoeing around at the risk of other peoples’ disapproval, you’re not being true to yourself. I’m going to reuse a quote that I used in my first post, about being scared.

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” -Aristotle, Maybe

I don’t want to over-generalize here, but if people aren’t getting mad at you once in a while then it might be a sign that you’re not standing up for yourself or speaking your mind. But still, I know it can be hard to deal with. Depending on who is on the other end of it, they might get loud. They might get in your face. They might refuse to back down. Maybe they believe, deep in their heart of hearts, that they are right. That they know what’s best for you.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s always a good thing to hear people out, and to take other opinions into consideration. But sometimes what they have to say doesn’t apply to you. They might be talking just to talk. Or maybe they’re insecure and they think that telling you what to do makes them more important. Maybe something works really well for them, and they assume that it’s what’s best for you too. But not everyone is the same, so their successes might not apply the same way to your life. No matter what the case is, there will be situations where you know absolutely that your opinion will not line up with theirs no matter what. Let’s dive into how we can deal with these situations.

Remember that it’s not personal

I’ve been in twelve step groups before. One of the huge lessons that I have kept with me is the following: it’s not personal. That other person isn’t yelling at you because of you. They’re yelling at you because of themselves. Maybe they had a bad day. They could be having problems in their marriage. Maybe they’re just insecure. Lots of people are. There are countless reasons that someone might be upset. Then you come along, and you make a comment, or do something, or don’t do something, and they blow up.

Whatever is bothering that person, there is a very good chance that it isn’t you. It’s not personal. If you can learn to recognize that and not take it personally, it will save you a lot of stress.

Remove yourself from the situation

If at all possible, don’t stick around. If someone is being negative and you know they won’t change their mind, the absolute best thing to do is not be around it. Walk away. Maybe they’ll get over it, calm down, and you can talk to them rationally about it later. Or they might not, and the worst case scenario is that you have one less negative person in your life. Doesn’t sound so bad to me.

I’m not saying this is the solution in all cases, or that you should never talk to people who disagree with you. But if they’re angry, they’re not listening. And if they make you angry too, neither of you is listening. And there’s no way to settle an argument when neither party is willing to listen to the other.

Kill ’em with kindness

This is something that I have learned working in retail. Sometimes customers come back angry. Angry at me, or angry at one of my coworkers, or angry at the company. A lot of the time, it’s not anything that any of us did wrong. But it doesn’t really matter. They come in angry, and I have to keep my cool.

Sometimes it’s a challenge. But it’s my job. And when I was still new at my current job, one of my managers gave me a piece of golden advice: “kill ’em with kindness.” No matter how angry they get, if you keep your cool and just be nice to them, eventually the situation will settle and you can work things out a lot easier.

Last, but not least: Love them

Jesus Himself states that the two greatest commandments are that you should love God, and that you should love your neighbor as yourself (it’s in Matthew 22, in case you’re curious). Let that sink in for a moment. When asked, Jesus responded that love was the most important thing.

Trust me, I know how hard it is to keep that in mind when someone is yelling at you. It’s one of the hardest things to do in that situation. But I have no doubt that it’s the best possible reaction. I remember reading somewhere (don’t ask me where) that anger is our natural reaction to feeling disrespected. As I’ve said before, I’m no scientist. I don’t know if it’s true. But when I think back to the times that I’ve been angry, it makes sense to me. And I can’t think of a time where I’ve been mad, when a little bit of love wouldn’t have calmed me right down. So maybe it’s worth a shot.

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