The dancers in ballroom tango initially move across the floor through the flexing of the lower joints (hip, knee, ankle) while the feet are delayed, then the feet move quickly to catch the body, resulting in snatching or striking action that reflects the staccato nature of this style’s preferred music. Our emotions, like tango steps, can vary widely in timing, speed, and character, and follow no single specific rhythm.
I dare say all of us have been with a person who was expressing anger or another unpleasant emotion. It can be an intense experience, whether the anger seems justified or not. How can you diffuse an angry person? Do you know what words calm an angry person? Knowing how to deal with angry people in life and in school is a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence. These kinds of people skills build greater confidence in every relationship and situation!
What if you knew how to respond to another’s anger in an effective way? I suspect that your life would be a little calmer and more relaxed. And better yet, what if you could defuse someone’s anger altogether? It can be done—using empathy.
Anger often piggy-backs on multiple frustrations and annoyances. Many times, the angry person is feeling hurt, sometimes powerless—and often they feel like their values are being disrespected or their sense of well-being is threatened. If they feel misunderstood, judged, or made wrong for being angry, their emotions tend to escalate. An angry person is not acting from their logical brain.
It’s common for us to get defensive or react to someone else’s intense emotions. Frequently, we don’t even want to deal with another person’s feelings. And even if we desire to be there for them, we might not know how to respond. It can be especially difficult when a person is feeling unsafe when volatile emotions erupt. Or when we’re also feeling hurt and filled with our own emotions, it’s hard to keep our composure.
Of course, it’s not your job to take on another person’s anger, to be a target of their angst, or to solve their problems. However, if you decide to be present to their anger, below are some possible responses. When it’s necessary to set a boundary for the strong emotions of someone else, these responses help them feel heard while also letting them know you care. Yet there’s still room for you to take care of yourself.
Recognize your own emotions:
The basic elements of every Argentine tango dance are the embrace, walking, figures, dancing codes, and the underlying type of music. The basic elements of emotional tango are embrace and identify your own emotions, allow yourself time to assess whether this emotion helps you right now, refocus on the other person, and listen intently with no judgment.
Understanding and using these four basic elements of emotional tango will help you appropriately perceive and relate to the thoughts, emotions, or experiences of others, without trying to fix their problems, or offer advice, or quell your own discomfort with someone else’s pain.