I just (again) discussed an interesting problem with a close (female) friend. She frequently gets angry at people for no good reason. She is aware of the problem herself but can't help it.

For example, she is late for a meeting which the other party, fairly, frowns upon. This causes my friend to be very angry at that person. My friend knows that the other person has a "right" to be annoyed with her being late, while she herself has no reason at all being angry at that person in that situation but she can't avoid it.

My first advice to my friend was that she must learn to apologise and these days she is pretty good at apologising. She always gets back to people, including me, the day after and tells them "it was wrong of me to be angry at you yesterday" but this is exhausting for her.

Now we discussed how she can avoid ending up in these situations to start with. I think it is human to feel angry even when it is yourself that is to blame for the situation but I don't really know how I, or others, cope with it. It is kind of tacit knowledge. I can only tell her to "analyse the situation rationally and if you realise it is your own fault, then shut up" but that approach doesn't really work when the situation that triggers the anger is ongoing (obviously, when she has calmed down she can think rationally about the situations - that is why she is able to apologise later on).

What do you advise?

Edit: the goal is to act more rational in situations when she gets upset. Sometimes it is justified for her to get upset (e.g., when someone else is late for a meeting) but frequently it is not. How can she learn to distinguish between these two situations "in the middle of it" (she is good at making that distinction later on when looking back on what happened but then it is too late)?

  • Just to confirm from your wording; has your friend actually said that she wants to reduce her quickness to get angry with people, or have you just been giving advice when she comes back later to apologise?
    – user8671
    Sep 12, 2018 at 11:07
  • Yes, she thinks herself that it is a problem. People get annoyed with her even if she later apologise and she realise that there is a finite number of times she can get away with this, even if she apologise afterwards.
    – d-b
    Sep 12, 2018 at 11:09
  • 3
    This sounds more like an inTRApersonal question than an inTERpersonal question and might be off-topic here.
    – Elmy
    Sep 12, 2018 at 11:17
  • 1
    I have a feeling this is more in scope of work with some professional help. Maybe behaviourist or someone. There may be a reason she is defending herself with anger when people are confrontational toward her. And she would need to locate the "trigger" to deal with source rather than the outcome of it. Sep 12, 2018 at 11:37
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it seems like an intrapersonal question, not an interpersonal one. It also sounds like a "What should I do?" question which is off-topic.
    – Ael
    Sep 12, 2018 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


Get professional counselling

That's usually the most effective way because the professional she visits can find the root of her problem before solving it.

I know many people who had the same problem, and some of them have overcome the issue by getting counselling. Some have lessened it without going to a counsellor, but none have solved it.

The point is, without special education and having our own feelings towards the person with an anger management problem, we can't stop projecting our own situation on the problem person, while counsellors are especially trained to perceive things as close to how they actually are as possible, and to find the very reason of her behaviour.

Even if she doesn't solve the problem completely, at least she will understand the underlying reason and be able to soften the consequences.

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