Why Smiling Anger Can Be So Dangerous

When somebody rages, with eyebrows drawn low over the eyes, teeth bared, facial muscles torqued into a mask of aggression, you have a good indication that you should be careful.  People in this state can become violent, it’s called being “mad” for good reason.  They are out of control in their anger.  They may snap, they could have a heart attack.  It’s fairly easy to recognize, when somebody is in this kind of rage, that care must be taken to avoid things getting worse.

Take rage to its extremest expression and you have murder.   If an angry person kills you, it rarely makes everything right for them.   They just have to start justifying themselves and getting ready to do the same to anybody else who backs them into an infuriating corner.  And, of course, there are the police to worry about, and all the rest of the legal system.

There is another way of displaying anger, a bit more subtle and almost as common.   It expresses itself without snarling, but is just as determined to exact its price.  The real horror of anger?  There is no price it can exact that will really make things better for anybody, outside of a sincere apology and promise to do better next time.  And with this subtle kind of rage, it often has nothing to do with the person it is being visited on, so it cannot be placated.

When you see a genial person become intransigent, but continuing to smile, even as the intransigence escalates, realize what you are dealing with.  If nothing you can say is having any effect, beware.  It is not a situation worth staying in, if you have any way to leave.

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