Tips on Communicating Anger Effectively
Healthy Communication is Assertive
Are you uncomfortable with anger? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many people are uncomfortable with anger because either it was expressed inappropriately in their past or not at all. However, repressing anger can be a dangerous situation. It can lead to passive-aggressive behavior, resentments, even medical illness! You can learn some basic skills to begin communicating anger effectively.
It’s not about expressing anger, it’s about acknowledging your feelings and sharing them in a respectful way with others. Watch out for venting! Simply expressing or venting anger can be dangerous as it builds momentum and can become destructive. Working with your anger involves identifying what you’re feeling and then finding a respectful way to communicate your underlying need vs simply reacting or venting to the other person.
Healthy communication is based on the assumption that we all have the right to have feelings – and to express these feelings in ways which show respect for others as well as ourselves. Personal relationships become more authentic and satisfying when we share our honest reactions with others and allow them to do the same. Below are some helpful hints to assist you in dealing openly and effectively with natural emotions such as anger:
1. Use I statements. For example, use the statement “I am upset that the door was left unlocked” instead of “You make me so angry.”
2. Make statements which are descriptive rather than evaluative. By describing your own reaction, it leaves the other person free to use it or not to use as she/he sees fit.
3. Statements need to be specific rather than general. If you are told that you are “dominating,” you will likely shut down defensively. If you are told, “Just now when we were deciding the issue, you did not listen to what others said and I felt forced to accept your arguments or face attack from you.” While it may not be easy to hear, it gives you something tangible to work with.
4. Make statements based on observations rather than on inferences. They to be on what you can see or hear in the behavior of another person, not on interpretation and conclusions.
5. Take into account the needs of both the receiver and giver of feedback. Feedback can be destructive when it serves only your needs and fails to consider the needs of the person on the receiving end.
6. Direct statements toward behavior which the receiver can do something about. Frustration is only increased when you remind someone of some shortcoming over which she/he has no control.
7. Make well-timed statements. In general, feedback is most useful when spoken at the earliest opportunity after the given behavior (depending of course, on the person’s readiness – wait until neither of you are flooded before communicating feedback).
8. Check to insure clear communication. Rephrase what you heard.
Dealing with an Anger Attack on You
1. Listen non-defensively and “tune-in” to the other person’s anger (within reason).
2. Express your understanding of their feelings and acknowledge responsibility for any behavior on your part which may have contributed to hurting the other person and provoking the angry outburst.
3. Clearly and sensitively express how you feel about being the recipient of the anger attack.
4. State your preference for a time, place, and style of communicating your feelings in a non hurtful way so that conflict can be resolved.
Contact us for help working with anger or communication skills. We have a group of therapists in Houston specializing in different areas. We also offer online therapy throughout the state of Texas. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. Improve your communication and improve your relationships. We look forward to help you!
Sign up to be notified of group and workshop dates.