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People can sometimes be hard to read, and this can cause a lot of distress. It can be difficult to determine whether they are angry with you or simply in a bad mood when they are reacting strangely. Believing someone you care about is angry with you can make you feel very anxious. These emotions can also cause you to over-analyze or misinterpret anything this other person does or says.
It is important to find out what the cause of strange behavior is so you can work towards correcting yourself if you did something wrong. You also must avoid misinterpretations that can result in huge arguments.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to ask someone if they are upset with you without sounding too accusational or direct, while also maintaining a positive relationship. With this guide, you can get truthful and honest answers and a good reason for their behavior towards you.
How to Ask Someone if They Are Upset With You
Asking the direct question “Are you mad at me?” is one of the worst methods to use if you want to know if someone is upset or angry with you. This direct way of asking usually makes people feel like you’re accusing them of bad behavior. It can feel too direct, and may cause someone to deflect or lie, potentially harming your relationship with them and causing unnecessary angst for both of you.
Instead of diving in head first, give the following alternative methods a try.
Ask Yourself Why They Would Be Mad At You
Before you simply assume this person in your life is angry with you, ask one important question: why would they be mad at you?
It isn’t a good idea to simply assume someone is angry. If you simply assume, your own behavior will quickly grow defensive, and you’ll start to behave in an unpleasant manner.
Consider the things you did and said alongside, in front of, or around this person over the past few hours or days. Carefully analyze interactions in your mind, and try to think from their perspective.
If nothing comes to mind, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. There might be some other elements in this person’s life occupying their thoughts or causing stress and triggering these odd behaviors.
If you do recall something you might have done accidentally, proceed and investigate further.
Timing and Location are Everything
Before you consult with this person who’s acting strangely, be careful to pick a strategic time and location.
No one likes to discuss conflict in front of friends and family. It’s very important to ask someone if something is bothering them in private, because the reason behind their feelings can be embarrassing to either you or them.
It’s also a good idea to choose a quiet and peaceful location where you won’t be interrupted. Asking out in public is something you should tend away from, because most people avoid their true feelings when they’re out in social situations.
A noisy area like a restaurant also isn’t a good place to talk. There are too many distractions and interruptions from waiters or other friends in the area.
It’s usually best to ask the person who is upset in a quiet place. In this way, the two of you are alone, and there aren’t likely to be any interruptions for a while.
Accept That They Might Not Want to Explain How They are Feeling
It’s good that you’re trying to clear the air, but this other person might not be ready to communicate their problem to you, whether the issue is with you or not. If the annoyed person is deflecting, obviously lying, or making excuses to leave, you should accept this and give them the freedom to keep their private issue private.
Their behavior might have nothing to do with you, and they might not want to share their issue with you. It could be about someone else or something they feel embarrassed about.
Pressing the matter will only make this person feel anxious and stressed. It could make a huge mess of something that might have been insignificant, or something that was likely nonexistent.
Remember to Stay Calm
If this person does want to confront you or has an issue with something you did, stay calm while they make their statement. Remember, you’re the one who pressed for an answer when they were trying to prevent further issues by avoiding you.
Stay calm while this person reveals to you what you might have done to offend them. It can be challenging to stay calm when you yourself start to feel angry or anxious. But it’s your responsibility to remain calm, since you were the one who behested this other person to come out with their problem.
If you fail to stay calm at this point, you’ll ruin the trust of this other person. They will likely never confront you or reveal the true reason behind their actions or behaviors to you in the future. This is especially true if this other person has low self-esteem.
Better Ways to Ask Someone If They Are Angry
“Are you mad at me?” sounds far too frank. But, it’s a direct way to figure out what’s going on. If you’re looking for a way to ask if you did something to offend someone, try the following alternative questions in your difficult conversation.
Ask How They Are Feeling
Instead of asking someone directly if they’re angry with you, you should try a different and softer approach. The question “How are you feeling?” is a good subtle approach to start a conversation that might get some answers to their strange behavior.
You can ask how they’re feeling in person, on a call, or even via text message, and it’ll come off as a wellness inquiry instead of an accusation.
By asking in this subtle way, you’ll give this person the opportunity to discuss the reason for their actions. If the person still sounds stiff and seems to be avoiding you, there is still a chance they might be angry with you. They might not be ready to tackle the issue head-on. You can then proceed with a follow-up question that might get you some more answers.
Ask If There Is Something on Their Mind
A good way to inform the other person that you’re noticing some changes in them is by asking “Is there something on your mind?” This is a more direct approach, and is ideal for letting them know you realize something is off.
It still doesn’t put too much pressure on the annoyed individual, giving them the opportunity to confront you regarding an issue. It also gives them the opportunity to discuss what they’re actually dealing with, or to deflect once again if they’re not ready to discuss the particulars of their situation with you.
Since this is an open-ended question, it will also give this other person the ability to easily find something else to talk about. They may be dealing with a personal issue.
Ask If You Are Right That Something Is Bothering Them
The question, “Am I right that something is bothering you?” is another good subtle way to inquire if someone is upset with you without sounding too frank. “Am I right?” tells this person that you’re not sure and gives them an opportunity to correct you. “Is something bothering you?” tells them you can see that something is off and that you’re concerned.
Be careful of your tone when asking this question. If your tone is too direct, it can feel like a harsh question, and the other person will go into defense mode.
Ask If You Did Something to Offend Them
Asking the question, “Did I do something to offend you?” is a good way to tell someone you feel like you’re being mistreated by them. It’s also a good question to ask if you want to help someone discuss a feeling of helplessness.
You should be a little careful with this question, since it’s straightforward and can sound like an accusation. Any tone with a question like this can provoke an argument. Remember to ask in as gentle a way as possible.
Tell Them They Have Been Distant
The statement, “It feels like you’ve been a bit distant,” is a good follow-up line to these previous questions. You can tell that something is wrong from the annoyed person’s answers. This is an especially good statement if you feel their behavior is directed towards you.
You can proceed and ask the person, “Do you want to talk about it?” If they’re ready to discuss their feelings, they will. If not, it gives them a way out of the conversation. They may feel forced to confess something they’re still working through.
We hope this guide was helpful for finding out how to ask someone if they are upset with you and that you can get the answers you need without worsening an already bad situation. If you need more information on how to maintain healthy relationships among yourself and others, then have a look at some of the other guides on Well and Wealthy. With these guides, you can find great advice to help you live a better life.