Anger management: From crisis to calm
What is anger?
Dictionary definitions for anger vary. Some describe it as a feeling of great annoyance or antagonism, as the result of some real or supposed grievance. Others see it as a strong feeling that comes from being wronged or insulted, or from seeing cruelty or injustice.
It’s true that anger spans a huge range of emotions, from mild irritation to volcanic eruption. Because of this, you may find it hard to recognise. Perhaps you are feeling upset, depressed, agitated? Underneath these uncomfortable feelings, it may be that you are angry.
If anger remains unrecognised or is suppressed, you may feel low and lethargic. However, anger channelled assertively and constructively can be empowering and has the potential to address difficult emotions and arrive at positive solutions.
What are the two types of anger?
There are broadly two forms of anger:
a) reactive anger, stemming from opposition and hostility in interpersonal relations;
b) root anger, a positive driving force that leads us to campaign or shout from the hilltops about something we oppose or campaign for.
For the most part, anger has a bad press. When we think of anger, we tend to think of people who are out of control, scary and to be avoided at all costs. The sight and sound of an angry person may trigger unpleasant memories that send messages about anger being a bad and unacceptable emotion.
Yet, we are all likely to experience it, whether or not we acknowledge it to ourselves and express it.
Four ways people express anger
You can express anger in different ways:
Aggressively: going on the attack with a shark-like wish to win at all costs, ignoring the other point of view, further damaging relationships in the process.
Passively: holding in your feelings, not speaking but secretly seething, leaving resentment and no prospect of resolution.
Passive-aggressively: digging at your “opponent” in a roundabout way with smirks and sarcasm, gossiping behind their back, ganging others up against them, again without resolution.
Assertively: considering the reason for your anger, explaining it clearly to the other person, listening to their side and trying to find ways forward, a positive and constructive approach to managing a difficult feeling.
How to handle anger assertively
Here are my 10 top tips for managing your anger assertively with a view to producing a positive outcome when you are angry about someone’s behaviour.
1. Sleep on it. Rather than react in the moment and regret, take time out to think about the issue, how you feel and what you want.
2. Now decide what will address your anger. What do you want to achieve? What do you want from the other person? What do you want them to do differently in future?
3. How are you feeling? Annoyed, angry, enraged, furious, outraged? What will be helpful or unhelpful to say to them?
4. Say it calmly. Whatever you decide to say, say it calmly, quietly, in measured tones. Keep the fire out of the conversation and you’ll be much more likely to be listened to.
5. Explain the behaviour that gave rise to your anger, the negative impact it had on you and see if they will recognise and acknowledge it.
6. Ask for what you want from them, whether it’s to undo something that’s done or to act differently in future
7. Express the benefits that will follow from sorting things out.
8. Pool your ideas for resolving the situation.
9. Agree a practical way forward, what you will do and what they will do.
10. Thank them for listening and discussing it with you.
Hopefully, you will bring about a creative solution and restore a constructive calm to yourself and the relationship.
How we express ourselves impacts greatly upon others and also ourselves. Coaching can help you communicate your anger with confidence and assertively. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact me.