It has long been a practice to look away from someone who’s angry, but a recent study in Psychological Science shows the best thing to do might be to look at them, remember the face and remember their anger has nothing to do with you.
Photo by Ryan Hyde.
It was once thought you needed to feel a negative emotion before you could get rid of it, but in this study, Stanford researchers found you could actually train your brain to deal with other people’s anger. In one part of the study, people were shown a series of images of angry people, in one set, they were trained to think the anger had nothing to do with them as opposed to feeling the emotion the image evoked. They found people were able to adjust to an angry face over time and weren’t disturbed by it in the future. Researcher Jens Blechert adds:
If you’re trained with reappraisal, and you know your boss is frequently in a bad mood, you can prepare yourself to go into a meeting. He can scream and yell and shout but there’ll be nothing.
The study was based on pictures, so it’s hard to gauge how it will work if your boss is a perpetually angry person, but it’s certainly worth trying out.
The Brain Acts Fast to Reappraise Angry Faces [ScienceDaily]