Anger is an emotion that strikes everyone from time to time. However, people with short fuses can lose their temper over seemingly small problems and even become a threat to those around them. Whether your love interest, family member or close friend has a hot temper, you might feel responsible for calming them down. In other cases, you might even be the target of their rage. A few strategies can help you handle the person’s hot temper and avoid a complicated situation.
Position Yourself as an Ally
People get angry when they feel something valuable of theirs is in danger, such as resources, residence or relationships, according to “How to Defuse Anger in Ourselves and Others,” a PsychCentral article by associate editor Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. When facing an angry person, present yourself as a non-threat and forge trust. You can do this by showing interest in their plight. Ask them questions about their problems and be an active listener. Use humor when appropriate, but never insult the person or poke fun at their problem.
When arguments arise, you might be tempted to give up your side of the debate simply to appease the hot-tempered person. However, if you follow some basic communication strategies, you can get your point across without setting off any tempers. Be aware of your partner's anger triggers, as well as your own, and avoid them if possible, suggests Amy Bellows, Ph.D., in her article "Couples Can Communicate Without Anger" on PsychCentral. Bellows also suggests that you listen objectively to your partner, stay on topic to avoid accusations, and question your own motives to ensure you aren't simply provoking a fight or acting too defensively.
Consider the Possibility of Depression
Try to understand the cause of your friend’s irritability. A short temper can be a sign of depression, warns clinical psychologist Elvira Aletta in her PsychCentral article "Help, I Live with Someone with Anger Issues!" With this in mind, consider the other common symptoms of depression, including feelings of unhappiness or unworthiness, sleeping problems, loss of interest or pleasure and constant fatigue. If depression seems likely, tell your friend to seek the aid of mental health expert. Act with urgency, as depression can increase the risk of self-harm or even suicide.
Don’t Tolerate Abuse
At its worst, anger can lead a person to abuse those around him. If this person verbally, physically, or emotionally abuses you, seek help from the proper authorities. You might have to contact his psychiatrist or even the police. If you unsure of whether abuse is taking place, consult a counselor or close friend and express your concerns to them, suggests Aletta in "Help, I Live with Someone with Anger Issues!" This outside person can provide you with the reality check you need and help you find a solution.
Mitch Reid has been a writer since 2006. He holds a fine arts degree in creative writing, but has a persistent interest in social psychology. He loves train travel, writing fiction, and leaping out of planes. His written work has appeared on sites such as Synonym.com and GlobalPost, and he has served as an editor for ebook publisher Crescent Moon Press, as well as academic literary journals.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images