Calming down others requires an understanding of human behavior and the causes of anger, either real or perceived. When someone attacks us either verbally or emotionally we tend to react in one of two ways. We can burst out in a fit of anger or simply withdraw and internalize the hurt. This is referred to as the “fight” or “flight” response. It is much easier to deal with the fight or anger behavior. People who internalize repeated abuse are much more difficult to work with.
For this study we will deal with anger and how to deal with it. There are two levels of counseling required. First there is the immediate need to defuse the present anger and next is the longer term program of helping the client overcome the root cause of his/her anger.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Keeping Calm as a Guidance Counselor
As a guidance counselor, teacher X has sent you a student that continuously fails to do the homework and is disruptive in class. You look down at the record and see that he/she has gotten D’s for the past three marking periods. The student lashes out, blaming the teacher for picking on him/her.
He/she starts pounding on the desk and is raising his/her voice against the teacher. You should listen attentively with compassion to the student. Be supportive and try to have him/her tell you what is really bothering them. Let the student speak and tell you why he/she came to you in the first place.
What you are truly trying to find out is the extent to which he/she understands the root cause of the problem. You already know why the student didn’t do his/her homework. It was for lack of knowing “how” to do it. Your follow up in phase two would be to arrange for some kind of mentor to help the student.
Keeping Calm After a Professional Loss
You lose your job and come home and tell your partner. You lash out against your boss and how unfair it was, that you were doing your job well. Your voice is trembling and sparks are flying, He/she sits down beside you and listens to your rants and raves.
He/she shows a deep empathy for you and tells you that things will get better. Yet deep down he/she knows that you have been having trouble on the job for some time. He/she knows that it was your attitude that was the root cause of your dismissal.
After you’ve calmed down and at a later time, your partner will gently help you to understand that your attitude is just as important as doing the job well.
Calming Down and What Anger Really Means
In most situations, anger is the outward expression of a deeper seated problem. The bouts of anger will persist and intensify unless you are able to help the person look at his/her behavior and discover what is setting off these outbursts. Often it stems from parental rejection or the opposite of unrealistic expectations for success.
These attitudes often carry on into adulthood and adult relationships. Calming down others is the first step. Being supportive and empathetic is necessary but it must be followed by a program that will help the person remove negative self behaviors and attitudes and replace them with positive ones.
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