We have all been at the mercy of someones anger and it is not nice, in fact it feels horrible. Even worse when there is no justification for them to aim their anger towards us. On the flip side whether we want to admit it or not we too have found ourselves frustrated and taken our anger out on somebody that did not deserve it.
It is handy to bear in mind that we can all be loud and aggressive when we care passionately about something. Like when a driver cuts in front of us on the road and we feel threatened or in danger in some way. It is normal conditioned human behavior to react for protection reasons.
The solution is in how we react. For safety reasons reacting quickly in traffic by adjusting your direction and applying the brakes would be a positive reaction. But reacting on a secondary level by screaming and shouting is not about protecting and more about a damaged ego. By understanding their secondary reaction you can then choose your secondary reaction. Are you going to now react from a damaged ego perspective, from a feeling of superiority and try to educate the idiot because you have taken their anger personally.
How we respond to loud and aggressive people is the pinnacle of dealing with them. When we realise it is more about them than it is about you we can stop adding fuel to the anger by not reacting back.
In the book ‘The Law of the Garbage Truck‘ David D Polley explains how angry and aggressive people are like garbage trucks.
“Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you. So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.”
Of course unless you are genuine with the smile and wishing them well I don’t suggest you do it. This may just annoy them even more. However, you can do it from within and then let it go otherwise you will be carrying it around all day.
People often get so wound up by a ‘completely irresponsible reckless idiot driver’ that they want to express their anger immediately and then tell everybody about it for the rest of the day. They might have driven irresponsibly, even very dangerous. But, unless something bad has happened then getting angry back just adds more heat to the situation.
Ask yourself, have you ever made a mistake while driving? Of course you have, and did that make you a completely irresponsible reckless driver? No. It makes you a human and every human makes mistakes.
We jump to conclusions very quickly and without thinking label them a specific type of person. This article, is calling them loud and aggressive people. And they’re not. They are just people going through the same struggles and using the their learned habitual behavior from their experience. Just like we are. Every reaction we have is nothing more than an habitual response to that given situation.
So if you haven’t guessed yet ‘how to deal with loud and aggressive people’ is about seeing the bigger picture. Zooming out and seeing what might have led to that situation. It’s about not judging them based on what you think you would do in their situation. Guess what, they are not you. They haven’t had your experience, knowledge and teachers that have all given you this thing you call ‘common sense.’
You have to accept what is happening is not personal, they are not doing it to you because of some vendetta. In the rare occasion that they may be acting on the some vendetta it is still based on their habitual behavior, in the long run it is still more damaging to them. It will become their personal karma. Don’t make their karma your business.
This is the most difficult part and it will get the most resistance especially from your ego perspective. You have to open your heart to them. Yes, you have to be compassionate toward them. You have to try to see it through their eyes, feel their pain and try to take some of their perspective and not just your own. Opening your heart and realising their suffering, struggling and doing the best based on their current experience and state of mind gives you the ability to not add any more anger to the situation.
In return you will be showing them a new experience and you never know one day their anger and loudness may subside and make way for better choices.
Updated for 2023