The “DO ANGRY WELL” Series. Part 3 of 3
I was getting gas in Old Town San Diego and the pumps have tv screens for advertisements, music or ‘fun facts’. I look at the screen and it says “Word Of The Day” and the word MOLLIFY appeared.
Mollify: to appease the anger or anxiety of (someone);
to reduce the severity of (something); soften.
The timing, as I continue to study the topic of anger, was perfect.
What do you do when the person in front of you is angry?
I’m not qualified to offer insights on aggressive anger or harmful anger, that is beyond my scope. However, when it comes to someone who is experiencing anxiety or heightened emotion or is spiralling or they feel hurt or offended or betrayed or rejected, I do have two thoughts.
 Keep your warmth.
Although anger is associated with heat, it has an uncanny way of creating a chill in the room! Ironic! You don’t need to be part of that chill. Warmth melts cold. What does warmth look like and why offer it as an olive branch? Have you ever seen a puppy nestle up to his mom for warmth? Have you ever warmed your hands by a fire on a cold winter’s night? Have you ever received a hug from a loved one who hasn’t seen you in awhile? What do each of these show us? They invite someone to draw in, not pull away. Extending warmth is not that you draw in to the person, it’s creating a space for the one that is angry to draw into you.
At a recent communications workshop, a designer for a lifestyle clothing company shared a story where, in one of their meetings, a colleague began to change the atmosphere with anxiety and heightened emotion. The woman calmly and warmly said to her colleague, “Can you repeat your thoughts? I’m not quite understanding. I want to understand.” Her colleague took a deep breath and restarted; this time, calmly. Her colleague responded to this woman’s warmth.
 Keep your calm.
The downfall of any level of anger is that it robs a person of his or her personal calm. This is an opportunity for your calm to be a resource for them to draw from. Why stay calm? How does it benefit you and the other person? Dictionary.com defines calm as “Without rough motion. Still. Free from excitement. Tranquil.” I’m fortunate to live close to the Pacific Ocean. The sunsets are breathtaking – always. Sometimes the waves are crashing to shore while the sun quietly settles down. Other nights the waters are calm, the sunset whispers good night; not a sound to be heard but the gentle singing of seagulls. Tranquility inspires us to exhale. Have you ever been in a plane when it hits turbulence? Flying into Palm Springs, there’s a jet stream that creates about 15 seconds of turbulence. But the turbulence always passes, no one ever needs to don their oxygen mask. No need to lose my calm. When someone experiences a form of anger, it will pass. It will always pass. Your calm becomes a tremendous gift. Wear your calm with confidence.
In the example I shared about the designer, her calmness and her warmth not only diffused the discomfort in the room, it created safety and helped strengthen the voice of her colleague. The anger and anxiety dissipated and the meeting carried on.
As I mentioned in the first two articles – when experiencing the emotion of anger we first need to calm our bodies, so we calm our minds, so we can find our words. Anger is a gift to our bodies, telling us to find our words. To find our voice. By you extending warmth and calm, you are a conduit in helping a fellow comrade find his or her voice.
ps: In this three part series on “Do Anger Well”, I am only referring to the levels of anger that do not threaten people’s lives. I am not addressing aggressive or harmful anger, which I believe requires professional counselling. If you are being verbally or physically threatened by an individual’s anger, please seek professional help and safety within your community. If you are being aggressive or harmful with your anger, please seek professional counselling.