Anger always tries to blind the listener to any change in his way of thinking. An intolerant person resort to intimidation, insult, or withdrawal — all fueled by anger — instead of accepting the fact of an honest difference of opinion. This is the way an intolerant person rigidly hold on to his beliefs. The fact is, the anger will be more intense in a more intolerant person.
The next time you find yourself getting angry about something another person says or does, do the following:
- Just remember that if you're secure in your way of thinking, you have absolutely nothing to defend. It doesn't mean you are wrong just because someone else thinks differently from the way you think. And you do not necessarily have to justify your own beliefs and actions.
- Go on the offense, instead of being defensive (this is what intolerant people mostly do). Say to the other person, "Tell me more about that. I'd like to understand how you arrived at that opinion. This is your chance to educate me."
- Don't make the conversation to be personal. Issues are the one you need to focus on and not the person. It means that your commentaries should have directed to the matter you don't like (for example, "I disagree that parents should give birth-control pills to their teenage daughters") rather than the person on the other end of the debate ("You're stupid for thinking that way!").
- Try to find points of agreement. For example, parents who are having a discussion about whether to give birth-control pills to their daughters can begin by agreeing (out loud) that they are, of course, both concerned about the ultimate safety and well-being of their kids.
- Avoid the use swearing and cursing. Swearing and cursing only makes the other person angry and stifles any productive exchange of ideas. You're better saying, "I really don't know what to say when you act like that" than saying, "You're an ass, and you know it!"
- By all means, avoid contempt and other demeaning body languages. Contempt — sighing, rolling your eyes — not only shows a sense of intolerance, it tells the other party you think he (and his ideas) is worthless. It's just a way of saying, "I'm better than you!"