Have you ever wanted to tell someone how mad you are? Instead you keep your anger to yourself so you don’t start a fight. The only problem is your anger is bubbling over to pop them in the face, even if you don’t express it directly!
Speaking up usually back fires when it’s disguised with blame and pressure. So how do you express your anger and frustration without contributing to more conflict and tension? Learn to speak up for yourself without blaming.
How To Communicate Anger Without Blaming:
To me, speaking up means sharing your thoughts, position, and/or vote. It may also mean defining what you are going to do or not do.
Speaking up doesn’t mean telling the other person what you think about them. This is called blaming. And when you deliver blame, watch for the other person to defend themselves with more blame or eventual retreat.
Here are my thoughts on how to communicate with someone about your anger instead of with your anger:
1. Own Your Thoughts/Feelings Completely – Most conflict starts with one person pressing/blaming the other for something they are feeling. If you truly own your perspective/feelings, then you will be able to tell someone without pressuring them to change. You will be able to tell them about yourself/your thoughts even if they don’t agree with you.
2. Restrain Your Initial Reaction – You may need to find a way to restrain the first feeling that pops into your head. If you are feeling stressed, most of us will use “fighting words” and blame the other. Find ways to slow your reactions, so you can think through how you present your ideas.
3. Define Yourself Without Pressure on Other – If you are speaking up in an attempt to get the other person to change, then he (or she) will sense your pressure. Maybe he will welcome the shape up, but then you will be responsible for “helping” him change (reminding, etc.) Or, he may get irritated with the pressure and “fight” back. Two people pressing on each other to change equals more conflict.
4. Be Open to Hearing Other – You don’t have to like the other’s position, but it’s great to respect it. If you aren’t pressing on the other to change, then it’s easier for him (or her) to speak up. You may learn something new about yourself and your loved one. New choices can be discovered that you couldn’t see before.
Discover New Choices by Speaking Up for Yourself …
Here is a classic example of an argument many couples have had more than once. Yet the wife in this example decides to try something different. That is, to simply tell her spouse about herself instead of trying to change him.
Wife: “I worry that you expect me to do everything.”
Husband: “I always thought you didn’t trust me to do anything.”
Wife: “I feel like I’m bothering you and get tired of asking you to participate.”
Husband: “I don’t mind doing my part. But each time I go to do something for the family, you have already done it.”
Wife: (Light bulb goes on in her head. She instantly sees how she is apart of the problem she is complaining about. She’s so fast and busy that she leaves little room for her spouse to jump in. Can she slow down and take charge less? And ultimately can she do less even if he doesn’t do more?)
Wife: “This is hilarious. So the more I do, the more you don’t do. And the more you don’t do, the more I pick up. Let’s not change a thing, and enjoy the circle we’ve created…”
On the outside, it looks like this heated discussion is going in circles and going nowhere. But for the person who spoke up, she now has a new way to think about the problem.
Remember the goal in speaking up for yourself is to represent yourself well. Although tempting, it’s not to get the other to change by using your anger to put pressure on them.
It’s not as important to express your anger as it is to learn how to communicate with someone about your anger. What do you think?
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Photo: “Love is Weird” by Alex Bellink