We work in a high-pressure field where people’s lives and livelihoods are often at stake. When tempers flare and someone gets angry, what should you do?

Here are three suggestions:

  1. Stay Calm. Adding your own emotions to the situation rarely results in a better outcome for anyone.
  2. Be aware of your client’s safety and also your own safety. If you feel at risk, don’t hesitate to call or ask for assistance.
  3. If possible, try to move past someone’s anger by figuring out where the anger is coming from. A very wise person once told me that anger is a mask for fear, hurt, or frustration.

So instead of asking why someone is angry, the better question might be, ‘why is that person feeling afraid, hurt, or frustrated?’ Lawyers are problem solvers and anger can be an obstacle to a fair resolution. When you control your own emotions and understand the cause of someone else’s, you’re better equipped to find a solution to the problem.

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