Hotheads

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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avatamsaka3
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Hotheads

Post by avatamsaka3 »

I have to deal with a hothead on a regular basis. My sense is that he's not a bad person. He just builds up, like a tea kettle on the stove. At first, there's no boiling. But over time, with lots of stressors, people asking him questions, aggravations, arguments, and provocations, he tends to get angry at nothing without provocation, and he sounds loud and aggressive. Earlier, I let myself give him a taste of his own medicine: I got angry too. But that didn't really solve the problem, and I felt like I stooped to his level. A few relevant factors: he gets anxious, he's older, he works in a toxic environment, and he's got some medical issues. (Karma is a bitch.)

So, what works in your experience?
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Ayu
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Re: Hotheads

Post by Ayu »

It's very difficult to give a diagnosis or advice from afar.
Keep calm and never go down to his level. Keep appreciation and respect.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:
avatamsaka3
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Re: Hotheads

Post by avatamsaka3 »

Yes, that's what I'm aiming for. Maintaining equanimity.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Hotheads

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

There’s nothing you can do to change that person .
But if you yourself set a peaceful example, it can tib off on them. They may secretly learn from you.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
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Ayu
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Re: Hotheads

Post by Ayu »

Yes. Often it is not possible to stop somebody's anger. They'll get rather angry with you instead. Keeping silent and waiting for the right moment to present your peaceful view is the only practical measure often.

But this depends on the person and the relationship as well.

In addition: In case you feel disturbed by the temper of your colleague it is always better just to talk about yourself than about them. ("For me it's difficult to..." or "I feel like..." instead of "You are..." or "You should...")
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:
avatamsaka3
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Re: Hotheads

Post by avatamsaka3 »

Keeping silent and waiting for the right moment to present your peaceful view is the only practical measure often.
This is a good thought.
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ewomack
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Re: Hotheads

Post by ewomack »

I also have a "hothead" that I have to deal with. Often, when he gets an idea in his head he will defend it almost to the point of violence. On more than one occasion, he has yelled, threatened, intimidated, bullied and sulked to get what he wants. Sadly, it often works as people move away from him so they don't have to deal with him. They give in to get away. I have had a few confrontations with him and I try to be compassionate and understanding, but we all have limits. I try to think of him as an insecure person, which he likely is, and feel sorry for him rather than vilify him. Sometimes I succeed, but other times I feel my bile billowing up. I realize that he's not doing anything to me, I'm doing everything to myself by allowing him to get to me. If I lose control and overreact it's my fault, not his. I try to not allow myself to react to him in an irrational way. We'll see how it goes.
avatamsaka3
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Re: Hotheads

Post by avatamsaka3 »

In my case, the person just builds up over time. It's not about any particular idea. It's a buildup of stress, negative emotion, etc. I believe in my case the person actually has a positive intention toward me.

Anyways, thanks for sharing, and good luck with your situation.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Hotheads

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

“What works?”
This is really two questions.
One is about how you should respond/protect yourself.
The other is about whether you can help the hot head person to change their behavior.
There is probably very little that you can do to change their bed temper when it arises. But, everything has a cause. Their bed temper has a cause. It may be rational or irrational, but it is still a cause.

Very often, the anger a person exhibits in one situation has nothing to do with that situation itself. Road rage is a good example of this: a person might get easily irritated when driving home from work because they are upset about something that occurred earlier that day on the job. They are mad at their boss, so they scream at another driver and drive aggressively. I think psychologists call this ‘transference’.

So, there may be some things you can do to help remove the causes, or the things that trigger the other person’s outbursts. For example, I found that my spouse tended to be in a much better mood about everything if I simply remember to clean up better after myself in the kitchen after I make myself some tea or food. Check to see if there are any little things you can do to help negative situations from arising, or at least prevents the “negative energy” of the other person from accumulating in your environment. A seed won’t grow if there’s no soil for it.

I have also found that asking and listening can be a very good response to another person’s negative outbursts. People get angry when they feel powerless, meaning that nobody is listening to them, and they don’t have the “tools” they need to alter their situation, which is very frustrating. Simply asking, “what happened?” or, “what would you like to see happen differently?” Opens up a door of possibility to that person, which may be all they need so that they don’t feel so threatened.

As far as what you can do to protect yourself, that’s something you will need to create. In other words, develop something in your own mind that kicks in automatically. For me, when someone starts losing their temper and directing that anger and frustration towards me, I immediately start chanting (in my imagination... not out loud!), and in my case, Namo Amitabha, but you can also use a mantra, or even a phrase such as “it’s okay” or “cool running water” —something very simple to say in your mind over and over again while the other person had their temper tantrum, that immediately redirects your own mind so that you don’t need to react right away.

This is important, actually, because our natural instinct generally is to go into survival mode. If someone yells at me, my gut reaction is to immediately yell back, right? But as you have already discovered, this in itself doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t respond at all, or that you should let someone walk all over you. But it means you yourself taking control of that moment.

What that means is, keeping a mantra or calming phrase in your mind, something that immediately pops up like a car’s air bag is also very important because it buys you some time. It allows for a gap to occur between you and the angry person. When someone starts yelling at you, this compresses time, doesn’t it? It feels like an explosion to which you have to respond immediately. But in fact, the other person’s outburst is not really a problem at all. At least, it’s not your problem. It doesn’t really require your attention at all. So, while someone else is ranting and raving, it’s okay to sit there and focus on something else. Then, after that person had let off all that steam, there’s a quiet gap, a space between you both, which you yourself have allowed to just let happen. It is a tool that you are in control of. Then, when you are ready to reply to the other person (if you even need to at all, and maybe you don’t) you can do so at your own leisure.

There is another problem which can arise, which is that if you don’t immediately react and engage in the other person’s anger, they will resent this and get even angrier. I think this is a common problem for those who meditate a lot, who are able to remain calm when others are losing it. They think you don’t care, because you aren’t getting all upset the way that they are. I don’t think there is a solution to this! Just stay confident that not getting upset is truly the best thing you can do.

This is when you can respond by asking questions and listening. But this is also when you can calmly be assertive -not reactive- but assertive on your own terms. The effect of this is actually very positive, because the angry person will feel that you are taking their problems seriously. It’s just like when you go to the doctor and they give you stern medical advice: “you need to start watching your diet!” or whatever. You sort of feel good about being told what to do, because the doctor is leveling with you, talking directly to you.

I think there are always little things that a person can do it a negative situation. They won’t change the situation immediately, but over time they will have a very positive effect. Remember, that hot-head person has a lot of crap to work through. This is a good opportunity for you to generate compassion.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
avatamsaka3
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Re: Hotheads

Post by avatamsaka3 »

So, there may be some things you can do to help remove the causes, or the things that trigger the other person’s outbursts. For example, I found that my spouse tended to be in a much better mood about everything if I simply remember to clean up better after myself in the kitchen after I make myself some tea or food. Check to see if there are any little things you can do to help negative situations from arising, or at least prevents the “negative energy” of the other person from accumulating in your environment. A seed won’t grow if there’s no soil for it.
Good idea.
I have also found that asking and listening can be a very good response to another person’s negative outbursts. People get angry when they feel powerless, meaning that nobody is listening to them, and they don’t have the “tools” they need to alter their situation, which is very frustrating. Simply asking, “what happened?” or, “what would you like to see happen differently?” Opens up a door of possibility to that person, which may be all they need so that they don’t feel so threatened.
Good idea.
There is another problem which can arise, which is that if you don’t immediately react and engage in the other person’s anger, they will resent this and get even angrier. I think this is a common problem for those who meditate a lot, who are able to remain calm when others are losing it. They think you don’t care, because you aren’t getting all upset the way that they are. I don’t think there is a solution to this! Just stay confident that not getting upset is truly the best thing you can do.
Yeah, people have some weird reactions to people who meditate...
This is when you can respond by asking questions and listening.
Good idea.
Remember, that hot-head person has a lot of crap to work through.
In his worst moments, my person gets impossible. I mean, you can listen and reason with him all day. He's just going to shoot down everything you say and poop all over any attempts to be reasonable. At that point, I still have no idea how to react. I prefer my poop in the toilet, not all over my head. Some people just get into totally unreasonable mode, and at that point I think I just have to say: When you're willing to talk in a way that's productive, we'll talk, but I'm out for now.
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Hotheads

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

In his worst moments, my person gets impossible. I mean, you can listen and reason with him all day. He's just going to shoot down everything you say and poop all over any attempts to be reasonable. At that point, I still have no idea how to react. I prefer my poop in the toilet, not all over my head. Some people just get into totally unreasonable mode, and at that point I think I just have to say: When you're willing to talk in a way that's productive, we'll talk, but I'm out for now.
Reasoning with people? ... that’s a whole other issue!
Sometimes all you can really do is walk away. There are some folks, people close to me, with whom I will only converse with in texts because any meaningful face-to-face verbal communication is impossible, at least regarding some topics.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
avatamsaka3
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Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:11 am

Re: Hotheads

Post by avatamsaka3 »

Reasoning with people? ... that’s a whole other issue!
Well, even acknowledgement. They poop all over that too, in their worst moments. I'm grateful that there's usually some acknowledgment that I'm trying to acknowledge.
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