Anger is a basic human emotion, brought on by sometimes the most trivial things. Everyone experiences it, but we all handle it differently. Anger is sometimes an expression of other emotions, such as pain, despair, fear or frustration. Knowing the cause of your anger is the start of being able to manage it, as well as communicate effectively with someone that is showing anger toward you. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” But it does not have to be that way. If the situation is handled calmly and with purpose, a positive change can result.
When you are angry, use “I” statements. In talking about yourself first, you avoid making the other person defensive toward you. For example, “I feel frustrated because…” Then let the other person know exactly what you are angry about. Simply lashing out is counterproductive and only worsens the situation.
Avoid words that express judgment, such as “should,” “worst,” or “better.” Also avoid any exaggerations, since the other person may argue about the exaggeration rather than the issue at hand.
Evaluate your own emotions or anger in the situation. In understanding the source of anger on both sides of the issue, it can be discussed calmly in order to find a solution.
Acknowledge the feelings, thoughts or ideas expressed by the other person. Showing interest in what they have to say often lets the other person relax and evaluate the situation more thoroughly.
Get agreement on exactly what the issue is, and invite the other person to work with you in addressing the issue and in finding a resolution. Showing your willingness to resolve the problem puts the other person more at ease, and may dissipate their feelings of anger.
If the other person is not acting in a civil manner, or is not receptive to reaching an agreement, let it go. Give yourself and the other person a “cooling off” period, and resume the discussion at another time when both parties are more calm.
When both parties have reached an agreement to resolve the situation, be sure to take action and follow up. At a later time, speak with that person again to be sure the issue has been fully addressed and that they are satisfied with the outcome. This will avoid any future conflict and show the other person that you truly care about how they feel.
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