Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca of the first century described anger as a form of madness. I would be so inclined as to agree.
There are those amongst us who operate from a space of madness. It’s not what we do that angers them.
We merely present a reason for such anger and madness to be expressed.
In this article, I’m going to share my thoughts on what to do when someone gets mad at you for something they did.
When someone gets mad at you for something they did, it’s usually a manipulative tactic aimed at deflecting from what they have done in hopes of avoiding responsibility. It is also entirely possible that the person mad at you is in denial about the facts of the situation.
Whichever way you look at it, there are two problems.
- The dispute that created feelings of anger.
- Having anger wrongfully directed at you for no justifiable reason.
Now, here’s where things get really interesting.
Most people who are involved with someone, especially in a situation like this, struggle to identify manipulation.
Usually, an outside party who has no interest in the outcome can pick up on the signs of gaslighting and denial.
If you’re having a hard time accepting that someone you trust or know personally is gaslighting you, that’s because they’re good at manipulating you.
The whole point of manipulation is to get what you want from someone using psychological tactics without them realizing what’s happening.
This doesn’t mean that you’re bad at reading situations or people, it just means that you’re dealing with someone who is really good at manipulation.
Unfortunately, there are people with good intentions who will behave in this manner.
They are so good at manipulation that they fall for their own lies.
In other words, they’re manipulating themselves into believing that what they are doing is justified and that they have every right to be mad at you for something they did.
This is where denial comes into the discussion.
Someone who is in denial will fail to see things from your perspective, even if it’s clear as day.
I’m of the opinion that denial is usually associated with a defensive mechanism.
This person may feel emotionally threatened by the situation.
Having to take responsibility for their actions or make amends places them in an awkward and uncomfortable position that they feel unable to deal with.
To avoid the discomfort and consequences, they would project anger and get mad at you for something they did.
The objective behind this behavior is to create equality.
They’re mad and you’re mad, so now, you’re forced into a position of equality within their mind.
People who struggle with conflict resolution would rather burn bridges than placing themselves in an uncomfortable position of making amends and admitting to their actions.
To you and me, this may seem ridiculous but to them, it’s not.
You could try calling them out on this and if you’re dealing with someone who is generally a good person who does value you, then they’ll come around. They may not admit what they were doing but they’ll cave and attempt some form of reconciliation.
However, more often than not, if you try calling them out then you will be met with more anger and resistance.
The more you argue the merits of your case, the angrier they will become.
In fact, you may quickly run into a situation where they cut you off and completely end all communication with you forever.
So, what do you do?
I’m going to share a few strategies with you that have worked for me over the years of dealing with people like this.
You’ll have to read the situation and decide which tactic is more appropriate for the situation.
But, before we get into that, I just want you to know that if your boundaries were crossed and you were really wronged, don’t let it slide.
There’s a chance that by enforcing your boundaries, this person may choose to ignore you and walk away.
You don’t need someone in your life who isn’t willing to respect you.
And if you choose not to hold them accountable when they really mess up, inadvertently, you are encouraging that behavior because you’re not attaching any consequences to it.
When they do it again, you’ll actually have no one to blame but yourself because you allowed them to get away with it by gaslighting you or playing ignorant with denial.
For the sake of what’s right and for your self respect, I implore you to exercise some inner strength and make it known that you do not condone their behavior.
You don’t have to be confrontational about it but you have to be politely firm.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the things you can do when someone gets mad at you for something they did.
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1. Don’t lash out or be overly confrontational
When madness meets madness, chaos ensues. You cannot reason with someone who has weaponized anger to avoid responsibility.
More often than not, they will respond to a confrontational approach with more anger as it already exists within them.
Instead, you would find much more success in remaining calm, collected and rational.
The idea isn’t to back down but to present your argument without giving the other person any room for escalation.
You see, to some extent, they want you to lose control and lash out so that things can escalate and you become the aggressor.
It’s hard to sympathize with the one who escalates an issue and becomes aggressive.
To counter this form of reaction, you must call it out.
Make being angry seem completely unreasonable.
“Why are you resorting to anger when we could discuss this as mature adults? I see no value in fighting over this when we can work through it respectfully. Do you not want to have a civil discourse?”
The above response does two things.
It makes being angry seem unreasonable and it also backs the other party into a corner by asking why they are not being mature and respectful.
Now, if they continue to behave the same, they’re essentially making themselves look foolish.
If you’re not comfortable with this approach, simply communicate with a respectful and non-aggressive tone throughout the conversation.
2. Explain things in a very factual and calm manner
Like I said above, this individual is looking for an excuse to say that you are being aggressive and immature.
They also want to get away with what they have done by pushing you to do or say something in poor taste.
Instead, avoid any personal attacks or insults whatsoever. Remain stoic and do not show much emotion other than an openness to discuss the matter with respect.
Go back to the facts and remain firmly grounded in that.
Either they’ll calm down, walk away or try to get angrier.
If they choose the latter, just end the discussion and walk away.
It’s not worth getting into an altercation with someone like this because they’re not going to do what’s right.
3. Do not get roped into a pissing contest
If you’re dealing with someone really nasty, you’re going to see a side to them that you may not have even expected.
They’ll be rude, harsh, crass and even insulting.
They want you to stoop down to their level.
Do not give them the satisfaction of doing that.
You lose when you abandon your values and behave like them.
Instead, make it clear that you’re not willing to continue this discussion at all if they’re going to be disrespectful and insulting to you.
Make it known that you’re only willing to converse with them when they can talk to you with respect as you have been doing to them.
Then walk away.
4. Give them time to calm down
People whose default reaction to issues is anger and defensiveness usually realize that they were wrong much later.
In the moment, you’re not going to get through to them nor are they going to admit they’re wrong while they feel ‘threatened’.
Don’t waste your time trying to reason with them right now.
Just give them space to cool down and if you’re dealing with someone who has a good conscience, I’m willing to bet that they will initiate a more respectful and honest conversation with you later on.
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5. Be prepared to walk away altogether
There comes a point in life when you lose all patience for people who are insincere and toxic.
Unfortunately, you may have family or friends whom you care about that may fall into this category.
They’re not going to change and despite the countless conversations you’ve had, it may become clear to you that this is just how things will always be.
You have two options,
Put up with it or walk away from them.
Easier said than done, I know.
But, even if you can’t walk away, you can distance yourself and not get too involved with them anymore.
Yes, it will suck and you’ll feel some guilt over this but I’m telling you that the constant gaslighting and drama will suck the joy out of your life if you don’t.
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So, when someone gets mad at you for something they did, I suggest that you opt for a mature reaction and do not tolerate gaslighting. Arguing your point incessantly will not win you any battles.
So, say your piece and move on.
If they’re good people with a conscience, they’ll come around and show remorse for their behavior.
Alternatively, they’ll act as if nothing happened and try to bury the whole thing.
Or, they’ll hold a grudge and treat you like garbage indefinitely which you should not tolerate at all.
Whatever you decide to do, just don’t sell your soul or compromise your morals and values for someone who clearly has a problem with conflict resolution and humility.
If I may, also hear them out because there’s a possibility that you have actually done something to upset them.
In which case, show some humility and be sincere.
With that being said, I hope you found this article on what to do when someone gets mad at you for something they did. Feel free to leave your questions and thoughts in the comment section below.