Coaching for Life: Anger relationships and health
The do’s and don’ts of anger communication
Validate another’s anger. Say, for example, “Its important to me that I understand what you are feeling so strongly about.” Or, “tell me what’s bothering you.” The angry person might escalate momentarily but will calm down at seeing your seriousness and caring.
Grow your anger vocabulary. It can be beneficial to learn to grade anger by using words like ticked off, annoyed, resented, miffed, enraged, furious, outraged, etc. Try using lines like “I can see you are quite enraged about this.” Or, “You seem miffed.”
Link feeling with behavior. Try and link an angry feeling with a behavior such as “When you didn’t call, I felt annoyed at being kept waiting.” Or, “I felt enraged when my boss turned down my vacation request.”
Diagnose the threat. Once the anger has subsided, try and clarify what underlying events or feelings triggered the anger. Convey to the angry person that you are concerned and care. This is the beginning of conflict resolution.
Do an autopsy on the argument. After the smoke has cleared, go back and clarify what each of you were “really” feeling before and during the conflict.
Don’t deny anger. Never tell an angry person, “Don’t be angry.” Or, “It’s in your imagination.” Denying someone’s anger is an invitation for it to escalate.
Don’t walk away. With the exception of abuse, try and lovingly engage the angry person rather than abandon him or her.
Don’t endure abuse. Learn to set limits with someone who behaves abusively. Have an escape plan if you are threatened. Name calling, intimidation, criticism, put down talk are examples of hostility.
Don’t avoid getting help. If you suspect hostility or abuse, contact a counselor or health-care professional. If you are threatened, contact the police.