Anger is a perfectly natural, healthy human emotion which may be expressed in a number of ways, including aggressively, non-assertively, assertively, or not at all. Anger is a feeling, an emotion we feel at times.
Aggression is not the same thing as anger. Aggression is a behavioural style of expression.
Before You Get Angry
- Recognize and allow yourself to believe, that anger is a natural, healthy, non-evil human feeling. Everyone feels it, we just don’t all express it. You need not fear your anger.
- Remember that you are responsible for your own feelings. You get angry at what happened, the other person didn’t ‘make’ you angry.
- Remember that anger and aggression are not the same thing.
- Get to know yourself. Recognize those events and behaviours that trigger your anger. As some say, “Find your own buttons, so you’ll know when they’re pushed!”
- Don’t “set yourself up” to get angry. If your temperature rises when you must wait in a slow line (at the bank, in traffic), work at finding alternative ways to accomplish those tasks.
- Learn to relax. If you have developed the skills of relaxing yourself, learn to apply this response when your anger is triggered. You may wish to take this a step further by “de-sensitizing” yourself to certain anger-invoking situations.
- Develop several coping strategies for handling your anger, including relaxation, physical exertion, working out resolutions within yourself.
When You Get Angry
- Apply the coping strategies you developed above.
- Make some verbal expression of concern (for example share with someone).
- Take a few moments to decide if this situation is one you wish to work out with the other person, or one you will resolve within yourself.
- “Schedule” time for working things out. If you are able to do so spontaneously, fine; if not, arrange a time (with other person or with yourself) to deal with the issue later.
- State your feelings directly, with appropriate non-verbal cues (if you are genuinely angry, a smile is inappropriate).
- Accept responsibility for your feelings.
- Stick to specifics and to the present situation. Avoid generalizing about the entire history of your relationship.
- Work toward resolution, not “victory”.
- Keep your life clear! Deal with issues when they arise, when you feel the feelings – not after hours/ days/ weeks of “stewing” about it. When you can’t deal with it immediately, arrange a specific time when you can and will.
Conflict is More Easily Resolved When Both Parties…
- Avoid a “win-lose” position. The attitude that “I am going to win, and you are going to lose” will more likely result in both losing. By remaining flexible, both can win – at least in part.
- Gain the same information about the situation. Because perceptions so often differ, it is good to make everything explicit.
- Have goals which are basically compatible. If we both want to preserve the relationship more than to win, we have a better chance.
- Act honestly and directly toward one another.
- Clarify their individual actual needs in the situation. I probably don’t need to win. I do need to gain some specific outcome and to retain my self-respect.
- Seek solutions rather than deciding who is to be blamed.
- Accept responsibility for their own feelings (“I am angry” not “You made me mad”).
- Are willing to face the problem openly, rather than avoiding or hiding it.
- Agree on some means of negotiation or exchange. I probably would agree to give on some points if you would give on some.