How Dare You! Controlling Your Anger in a Communication Setting
Let’s admit it – we have all been there. Whether it is that rude customer, an argument at home, or just a bad day at work, we have all faced that temptation to scream, shout, and lash out at someone in anger. When anger is the driving emotion, it is both difficult and tiresome to try and manage that strong emotion. We forget, however, that the viral nature of communication settings means that our one moment of anger may lead to a lifetime of regret.
The communication elements of an angry person are obvious. You may raise your voice or speed up in a heated argument. You may lose the structure of your main points/argument in your rush to respond. You may even adopt energetic, tiring hand gestures in a bid to appear dominant. All these elements, however, are more likely to hamper the attempt to convince the other party. Being angry may seem to work in situations where the power balance is in your favour (e.g., ranting at a service staff for a discount), but it is likely to leave a bad taste in the long run. Instead, a careful and controlled approach may give you the same outcome, and a better long-term outlook.
Today, let us share three quick tips on how you can manage your anger in a communication setting and still sound firm, professional, and persuasive!
Tip #1: Take a Breathing Pause & a Second “Look”
Many may view such communication settings as a challenge that they cannot ‘lose’ or back down from. Once we are deep into anger territory, it becomes more difficult for us to disengage and change our communication approach (because doing so may give the impression that you lost!). The best first step is thus most effective before you take that first step of anger. Taking that moment may make the difference between an unpalatable communication outcome and a compelling one.
There are two methods you can use to afford yourself that moment before the first step of anger. The first method is to take a breathing pause. You may notice that the “pause” features in several of our techniques and this is a testament to its value. A breathing pause is more than just a moment of silence. It is a reminder to take in that breath to compose and re-focus your mind. In that moment of anger, your mind may be racing through hundreds of biting statement to shoot at the other party. That breathing pause ensures that you cut through the chaos and find the core of the issue in the conflict.
Building on this, the next step is to adopt the second look approach. This encourages you to reassess your retort and to ask yourself: would I like to be on the receiving end of this statement? This is a simple, uncomplicated question that we often forget about in that heated moment. When used in tandem with the breathing pause, you afford yourself that moment to calm down and instead approach the communication setting from a persuasive power angle.
Tip #2: Create an Escape Route
As we shared earlier, you may view any step down from your anger to be a ‘defeat’ or a stain on your reputation. We need to remember that in a communication setting, there is (at least) one other party in the communication setting with you. If both of you adopt this starting mentality, you are unlikely to see a fruitful way out – especially if no one wants to back down. This often becomes those screaming matches or viral moments we may have encountered in public.
Instead, try to prepare an escape route for yourself and the other party. If both of you are trapped in a heated exchange, the escape route is a reminder to return to the core issue. The idea of an escape route is a strong focus on finding the exit to leave an undesirable situation. One way of doing so is to re-frame the heated exchange into a sharing context – “I understand that you were engaged in another company event. I would have appreciated if you had informed me earlier that you are unable to meet the deadline” is more palatable than “Why are you always so inefficient and irresponsible!” While every communication setting must be engaged based on its context, offering parties an easy way out of a heated exchange is one way of de-escalating.
Tip #3: Disengage & Reset the Frame
Sometimes, the situation gets too heated that even the most patient among us cannot control ourselves. In such situations, it is better to have a ready disengagement plan than to continue to be entrenched in the anger situation. We would emphasise again that this does not mean you are surrendering your position or sacrificing your interest. Instead, think of it as a brief rest so that both parties can address the proper issue on hand.
When disengaging, honesty is the best policy. Frame it as your hampered ability to provide a calm accurate response instead of attacking the other party. Instead of “You are being mean so let’s stop here”, go with a broader statement (“I believe this situation is not fruitful for both of us to continue discussing”) or self-aware statement (“I am quite affected by what we have discussed so far, if it is alright, let me take a quick break and we will discuss this again in a calm fashion”). Once the cloud of anger settles down, both of you are more likely to try and reach a resolution!
* Take a break (reset) *
* After you’ve regained your composure – Let’s continue to communicate! *
Hold that Shout!
Being angry is not easy, especially when we believe that we are entitled to that anger. We must understand, however, that in communication settings, the anger often results in a long-lasting bad taste, even if you get to enjoy the sweet flavour of the brief victory. Instead of launching into that temptation to scream, shout, and lash out, try one of our tips above to hold that shout and go for persuasive power instead!
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