When you most want to smash someone in the face or run out of the room, remember this irony. Cooling off someone else’s anger can be a way to actually bring that person closer. Warning: Don’t add fuel to the fire by suggesting that they calm down. Here are five ways to not only dampen their anger but also possibly strengthen your relationship with that person.

Five Ways To Keep Your Cool When Under Fire

When you most want to smash someone in the face or run out of the room, remember this irony. Cooling off someone else’s anger can be a way to actually bring that person closer. Warning: Don’t add fuel to the fire by suggesting that they calm down. Hint: “the opposite of anger is not calmness, its empathy,” notes Mehmet Oz, and when someone’ angry at you, then that empathy must start with you.

Here are five actionable tips that have helped me, when I’ve used them, which is not often enough. None will work all the time, and some will work better for your personality style than others.

Lighten Up
When others begin to act "hot," we instinctively tend to either
A. Escalate (become like them and get loud, more hostile, or other
mimicking reactions
B. Withdraw (poker face, quiet down).

Either approach gets us out of balance. Both are self-protective but
self-sabotaging reactions. They are akin to saying "I don't like your
behavior -- therefore I am going to give you more power." Instead, slow everything down: your voice level and rate and the amount and frequency of your body motions.

Be aware that you are feeling a hot reaction to the other person. Instead
of dwelling on your growing feelings, move to a de-escalating action and
leave room for everyone, especially the person in the wrong, to save face
and self-correct.

Take the "Three A's to Get Past Anger" Approach

• Acknowledge that you heard the person, with a pause (buys time for both to cool off), nod, or verbal acknowledgment that does not immediately take sides: ("I understand you have a concern" rather than "You shouldn't have….") or involve blaming or "bad labeling" language ("Let's discuss what would work best for us both now" rather than "That was a dumb....) that pours hot coals on the heat of escalation and hardens the person into their righteous position.

• Ask that person for more information. That way, the other person feels heard. Plus you both have the opportunity to cool off, so you can find some common ground, based on their underlying concern or need.

In your mind, "warm up" to the part of the person you can respect. Focus on it mentally and refer to it verbally: "You are so dedicated" or "knowledgeable" or whatever their self-image is that leads them toward rationalizing their behavior.

• Add your own. Say, perhaps, "May I tell you my perspective?" This sets
the other person up in a position of power, to give you permission to state your view, as you have already given them.

Presume Innocence

Nobody wants to be told they are wrong. Whenever you have reason to believe someone is wrong, lying or simply not making sense, you will not build rapport by pointing that out to the other person.

Allow them to save face and keep asking questions until you lose imagination or control. Say, for example, "How does that
relate to…” (then state the apparently conflicting information)?

You might find you were wrong, and thus you "save face." Or, by continued
non-threatening questions, you can "softly corner" the other person into
saving face and self-correcting, protects their pride and your future relationship.

Look to Their Positive Intent, Especially When They Appear to Have None

Our instincts are to look for the ways we are right and others are…
less right. In arguing, as the momentum builds, we mentally focus on the
smart, thoughtful, and "right" things we are doing, while obsessing about
the dumb, thoughtless, and otherwise wrong things the other person is
doing. This tendency leads us to take a superior or righteous position, get
more rigid, and listen less as the argument continues.

Difficult as you might find it, try staying mindful of your worst side and
their best side as you find yourself falling into an escalating argument.
You will probably be more generous and patient with them, and increase the chances that they will see areas where you might be right after all.

Dump Their Problems Back in Their Lap
If someone is verbally dumping on you, do not interrupt, counter, or
counter-attack in midstream, or you will only prolong and intensify their
comments. When they have finished, ask, "Is there anything else you want to add?" Then say, "What would make this situation better?" or "How can we fix this situation in a way you believe will work for us both?”

In effect, you are asking them to propose a solution to the issue they have raised. If they continue to complain or attack, acknowledge you heard them each time and, like a broken record, repeat yourself in increasingly brief language variations: "What will make it better?"

Do not attempt to solve problems others raise, even if they ask for advice.
They might make you wrong. It is only human for any of us to spend more time proving our approach works best than using a method suggested by someone else, even someone we love or like.

Hints to keep you on the peacekeeper path:
“He who angers you conquers you” ~ Elizabeth Kenny

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” ~ Buddha

“Don’t let somebody else determine your behavior” ~ Kare

Protect and Preserve Relationships

1. If you embarrass someone while trying to reach an agreement, you might
never have their full attention again.

2. Even and especially when you have the upper hand, do not make a victim
of the underdog.

3. Offering something free and valued up-front, unasked, often implants the
desire to reciprocate, even beyond the value of the offer.

4. Problems seldom exist at the level at which they are discussed. Until
you get some notion of the underlying conflict, you will not be able to
find a solution.

5. If you want more from another person, wait to ask for it until after that person has have invested more time, energy, money, reputation, or other resource in your relationship

Author's Bio: 

Kare Anderson’s TED talk on The Web of Humanity: Be an Opportunity Maker attracted over 2.5 million views. She is an Emmy-winning former NBC and Wall Street Journal journalist, now a speaker on connective behavior and author. Her. Her TEDx talk on Redefine Your Life Around a Mutuality Mindset is now a standard session for employees and invited clients at 14 national and global corporations. Her ideas have been cited in 16 books. Her clients are as diverse as Salesforce, Novartis, and The Skoll Foundation. She was a founding board member of Annie’s Homegrown and co-founder of nine women’s political PACs. For Obama's first presidential campaign she created over 208 issues formation teams. She was Pacific Telesis' first Cable TV and Wideband Division Director and a founding board member of Annie's Homegrown.Kare’s the author of Opportunity Makers, Mutuality Matters, Moving From Me to We, Beauty Inside Out, Walk Your Talk, Getting What You Want, and Resolving Conflict Sooner. She serves on the boards of The Business Innovation Factory, TEDxMarin, and World