Most of us don’t like to be angry.
However, anger is sometimes in all of us, and it usually comes from a person's need to communicate something important to us, or to the world.
So… many of us attempt to express it in a “nice” way. This is called passive-aggressive, and the French word for passive-aggressive is very revealing: sous-entendu, which means “what is understood underneath.” In other words, we’re saying one thing…but meaning another. We’re saying something that sounds innocent, but may be expressing it in a very different way.
For instance, when model Chrissy Teigen went out on a dinner date with her husband John Legend shortly after having a baby, she was tagged by followers as being a bad mother. Some tweets were directly aggressive, others passive-aggressive, like this one, “I never wanted to leave my daughter. I love her. BUT THAT’S JUST ME.”
“BUT THAT’S JUST ME” is the passive aggressive part. It is very real…and it can be very hurtful.
In fact, research shows that a hostile communication style can actually drive people away. And whether we’re aggressive or passive-aggressive, people will react negatively to us. It makes them feel uncomfortable, they won’t understand what is going on and they’ll want to get away from us.
So here are five ways to express our anger with emotional intelligence, to get the results we want.
1. Give yourself some time
If you’re fuming, sometimes it helps to just wait it out!
The reason is that although we are in a hurry to dish it out, the way it is expressed does NOT always come out the way we wanted. The reason is also because our anger can actually hijack our brain. How? When we’re angry, most of what we can think about…and feel…is our anger. In other words, when the emotional centers of our brain are highly active, we have a harder time thinking logically.
So…cool your flames and you'll see more clearly and communicate more effectively. Pray, breathe, listen to your favorite music, take a walk, distract yourself with a funny movie, meditate, make love, exercise — anything to help you regain composure and perspective.
2. Understanding our feelings.
Figure out exactly WHY you’re really angry.
Maybe you’re just sad or hurt. Often we think we’re frustrated with a person or situation, but the real reason is that we’re feeling pain, rejection, or sorrow. Figuring out the source of our real feelings enables us to communicate them to those we love, and more importantly, to ourselves.
3. Misplacing Blame.
It’s so very easy to blame a situation or person for how we feel. We’re hungry, isolated, anxious, overworked, or stressed. We then assign all the blame to the first person or situation we encounter; which…unfortunately…is usually someone close to us. In the process, we drive away the people we love the most — making things even worse. What's more, we're still frustrated, since they weren't the true cause of our anger in the first place.
4. Getting curious.
Focusing exclusively on why we’re angry keeps us focused on ourselves. The reason is that, as research has discovered, negative emotions make us self-centered. There is no room for another person’s perspective, because we’re so locked onto our own view of things. We probably aren’t even considering what may be going on with the other person. However, curiosity can be a very helpful emotion. Why is the other person acting a certain way? Instead of confronting them, ask them with genuine interest why they are doing what they are doing.
Most of us don’t run around with evil intentions! However, ALL of us have...and are still...making mistakes - especially in relationships. And ALL of us have hurt or angered others accidentally. There is a very good possibility that the person you are angry with is not purposely trying to hurt you. Endeavor to understand them before you assign blame.
5. Having compassion.
Another option is to make room for another person’s point of view. In other words, we can ask “why,” instead of just assuming the worst. When we do, we are inviting true communication and showing respect for another person’s right to think, feel and act a certain way. People absolutely love that!
The result: we develop an understanding and a deeper relationship based on communication and compassion. However, when we approach them aggressively, they will feel defensive and respond with anger in return. On the other hand, if we approach them with respect, they are able to hear our own perspective and will feel safe sharing theirs.
In doing so, we get to create the space to really share what's going on within us. And then our anger…can go away!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.