Pouring Oil on the Fire: Anger and Apologies, But in What Order?

Pouring Oil on the Fire: Anger and Apologies, But in What Order?

Timing is critical in managing situations with friends, where someone has lost their temper with you. When someone is really angry with you, don't expect simpering apologies to make things right.

We naturally are in a hurry to assuage their anger. We want to get back to the way we were. But to get back there can be a circuitous journey. RECOGNIZE:

Often people go through stages of anger: at first, they think what you did is irreparable. Then, they may begin to consider how you could make up for what you did--AFTER the anger has been

'digested'', or thought through, and discussion has happened with their friends, or, perchance, with YOU....

If you badger them with apologies, messages, flowers, or small gifts when they are in that initial no-return stage, you will just be pouring oil on a hot fire.

Take the little girl in the illustration. Do you think saying 'I'm sorry' is going to assuage her anger for your popping the balloon?

If you have kids, you know the answer. They will just be ULTRA angry at you, possibly out of control.

Why is this? You may ask...

Pouring Oil on the Fire: Anger and Apologies, But in What Order?

Most of us hate being manipulated, emotionally, much more than we resent any single misguided action.

Manipulation shows that people think we are gullible, and possibly stupid as well. Our justified anger can be brushed aside with some halfhearted APOLOGY?? Ooohhh..the temperature just

goes up exponentially. Polite apologies?

Not at this stage!

Later, when the anger has been analyzed and the person or people in question have thought the matter through they may well ask (or DEMAND) an apology. And at that point, apologies are appropriate, welcomed. Don't delay..at THAT point. THEN you can discuss it with them. By THIS

time, they have probably talked it through with their friends/family, if not with you already.

So have patience. Let anger seethe for a while before you try to mollify them. Otherwise, you pour petrol on the flames!

Mollify reminds me of Molly...and how I handled the situation with her in just the WRONG way!

Learn from my mistakes! Emotions have to run their own course at times!

Pouring Oil on the Fire: Anger and Apologies, But in What Order?
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Most Helpful Girl

  • Darkfairie17
    I think it's definitely possible to "over apologize" too. I've had people do that to me, and honestly just apologize. No need to add extra frills. If a person really messed up, then that's one thing. But make the apology concise but not blunt.

    I definitely agree with your suggestion to wait and apologize. Stages of anger are important. It's easy for someone to be upset with an apology in the heat of hte moment. Once they have had a chance to cool down it's usually a better environment for the apology.
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Most Helpful Guy

  • ThisDudeHere
    Well I won't attempt to apologize to an angry person right away, but then again if they expect that I'll just listen to their temper tantrum until they cool off, they can go take a hike.
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What Girls & Guys Said

  • Ntnrmlchck
    Well said! I always need a day to digest a perceived wrong. Usually what little my fire isn't exactly why I'm so angry. With a cool down period, I can step back and try to see why I'm really angry, where the person who wronged me was coming from and address any underlying issues that weren't even related to the whole situation in the first place.
    • Yes, there are always underlying issues when someone gets really angry.

      thanks for your input.

  • AlwaysBelieving
    I think it all how to apply to INDIVIDUAL.