Monday, July 7, 2008


I have a problem. This problem is that I have never learned how to deal with other people's anger. The biggest hurdle, for me anyway, is that invariably, the angry person will try to blame his anger on someone else. As in, no matter what, s/he would be a happy and contented person if it were not for me pissing on their parade. At 51, I have learned to sit quietly and watch. It has never failed. After a lifetime of being told that every problem my mother ever had, every irritation, was my fault, I backed out a couple of years ago, accepting that it was futile to try to work things out. My mom is 70 now. The situation will not change. And even though I backed out, what I find is that my mother is still an angry, angry woman, even two years after I'm gone. This is just one example, but it's always true, no matter who I'm dealing with. An angry person is an angry person whether I'm standing there or not.
This work situation has been weighing heavily. I requested that the situation be brought before the personnel committee. I expect that what will happen is this: After years of dealing with angry people, I'm going to find out, for once and for all:
Am I to blame?
And it will be a relief, in a way, to hear the unbiased answer.


Pencil Writer said...

Dear Debby, Don't want to burst your bubble, and I hope you find SOMEONE with an unbiased perspective, but I've found that EVERYONE is biased one way or another.

I can only imagine the enormous pain you've dealt with your entire life, beginning with your parent's anger. How debilitating that must be! At the same time, angry people are angry inside themselves, and don't really need a reason to lash out, apparently. Their triggers are just about anything! And you having to endure so much of that for your entire life . . . Oooooowwww.

You probably already know this, but I think anger comes from feelings of inadequacy, like being trapped in a situation (or mind-set) they feel they have no control over. And then there's the one I heard in Sunday School one time that made me really stop and ponder: Anger stems from enmity toward God. It's part of pride, the biggie, the root, as it were, when it comes to most any human (mortal) sin.

All that said, I to pray that you will find a workable solution with the ANGRY person where you work that will give you peace there.

Hugs to you. I'll keep you in my prayers. Remember: Jesus Christ endured all that you have, your parents have, etc. for ALL of mankind, and went through infinitely more than we can ever imagine. That's why HE, and only He, can succor you (or any of us) through ANY/ALL trials. He knows. He's been there. He can see perfectly what needs to happen and will help you (any of us) get to a better place.

Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

Hard to know what to say Deb... all I know is that unresolved anger never goes away. It festers and is poisonous to the person harbouring it. And, if allowed, to those close to it.

Some really good advice I heard recently was: Everyone has their own 'story' about events - the reality is always a little removed from each participants version of that reality. That 'story' colours the way you see the other person involved in the event. And so your view of them is clouded from that point. The only way to alter a cycle of (angry) behaviour between people is to alter your contribution. (Which seems like what you have tried in a way). This person also said: You cannot change how others behave toward you. You can only change your response to their behaviour. In other words, break the established cycle.

It's advice that has helped me enormously. But I am no counsellor. Intrigued to see how you go...


debby said...

I think that this is a good opportunity for me to look at anger close up, and figure a new way to approach angry people. I will probably never be her friend again, but we must learn to be coworkers, and interact in a professional way. My old way to deal with these things have always simply been to decide whether I can reason or not, and if I can't to step out of the situation. She is not reasonable. We must take it to a new level. New lesson, I suppose, and a valuable one at that, but it still makes me a little sickish. I never pushed something to this extreme before, and there's always the fear that I WILL be blamed.

Scotty said...

It's (unfortunately) indicative of the world today in that it's always someone else's fault; more than a few people are unwilling or unable to hold their hand up anymore and take personal responsibility.

I come from an era where one was considered to be more of a man for admitting one's mistakes than to pass the buck but there now appears to be a whole new generation of people who seem to be totally unfamiliar with the concept of personal responsibility.

Schools are part of the problem, I think, where they pander to the 'me, me, me' ideal of self-esteem so that kids never have to face their own faults or shortcomings (they can't fail, at anything) and of course, the chance to make a buck by litigating something doesn't help either when it comes to the adult world.

Whenever I have a problem with someone in a relationship, be it work, social, family, one of the very first things I do is to ask myself a very simple question...

"How did I contribute to this situation?"

Sometimes, it IS just the other person's inability to deal with things and there's usually not a lot you can do but let them have their rant, tell them you're sorry they feel that way, calmly point out that you won't be held accountable for their failure or inability to deal with issues, then, just walk away. Sometimes, I find that I did say or do something that has has upset someone and that it's encumbent on me to rectify that - personal responsibility time for me.

I've learned that unless the anger is managed, controlled, and has some useful direction, it's counterproductive. As that old saying goes...

"Anger is a thief that steals away the nicer moments in life."

Mary Paddock said...

Bravo to you for not letting this situation fester any longer. Not an easy decision at all, I know, but it needs to be dealt with.

It will help a lot that you are the one to bring this to their attention. The secretary chose to dump on you instead of doing the professional thing. That won't help her case.

Brace yourself now. Whether you like it or not, it's very likely you'll be asked to shoulder some of the blame in this situation (though you and I both know you didn't create it). You're both valued employees and they'll want serve you both to some degree. Committees want to render balanced decisions. It's a built in design flaw. :)

But my bet is the secretary will bear the brunt of this. Surely you are not the only person to be subject to her problems. A warning shot, reminding her of her role in your organization, will be in order (I hope!) and a caution to her to keep her personal feelings under control.

And as for coping with other people's anger in a healthy way. I can only say, man, I'm hip. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi debby
Finally back to read again. Please - teach me how to sit on the sideline? Please!

jeanie said...

Good luck - no advice but I hope that there is some resolution that allows you to peacefully move forward.

steviewren said...

I've known a lot of angry people in my lifetime too. I don't know the answer. Honestly, I think the non-angry party always loses to some just have to chose how you want to lose...looks like you want to go down with your self respect in tact. Good for you.

Hope it turns out better for you than my glass half empty attitude. : )