This week I saw a tweet on Twitter from a very well known marriage guru that said this:
“It’s very difficult if not impossible to communicate when you are angry.”
I noticed that several people had retweeted him, apparently as a sign of agreement.
But hold on a minute. Really?
It’s impossible to communicate when you’re angry? Then what do those slammed doors, raised voices, angry looks or silent treatment all mean? They mean you are angry, you’re feeling it and you’re communicating it!
In fact, it’s impossible NOT to communicate, whether you are angry or otherwise.
Perhaps the missing word to that sentence was, “effectively.”
This might be more true:
“It is difficult to communicate effectively when you are angry.”
Even then, I don’t necessarily agree. What’s so horrible about anger? It is a legitimate emotion.
What if the reason it’s so difficult to communicate when we’re angry is because we’ve never learned how to do it?
Sally’s husband Kevin was acting so irritable and short-tempered that she was beside herself with dismay. But she knew this behavior was not his norm, and it had to stop. During one of Kevin’s verbal outbursts, Sally was able to stay calm, despite her pounding heart and rising blood pressure.
Standing her ground, she calmly asked,
“What in the world is going on with you? I know it’s not me who deserves to be treated like this. Calm down and I’ll be here if you want to talk.”
(This was a huge victory for Sally, who would normally react with equal rage.)
Sally sat down and focused on breathing and not bursting into tears. Slowly Kevin began to calm down as he sat near her and started thinking. He was not sure why he had gotten so angry but he was able to tell her things that were going on at work. With his face softening and his voice quieting he said,
“They just fired Scott, who is one of the smartest guys at the office. It’s disgusting. I think they just chose him because someone’s head needed to roll and he was the cheapest guy to cut. He certainly was not the source of the problems we’re facing. I feel zero job security right now.”
With apology in his face he looked at her and said,
“I think I am really stressed, and I’m sorry for losing my temper.”
Suddenly Sally felt deep compassion for Kevin. She understood both his fears and his emotions, which made his outburst a bit more forgivable and understandable, even if not excusable.
Kevin appreciated her support as he dealt with new stressors at work, knowing that his home life was a place of encouragement. They both became stronger by communicating effectively when their anger was triggered.
Some tips when dealing with anger:
1. Acknowledge your own anger and take some time honor your emotions. Just because someone else’s actions trigger our anger response, does not mean we have to stay in that place. We don’t have to take their actions personally or enter into their negative energy.
2. See if there is a fear beneath the anger. Ultimately there is fear and there is love. Love is greater, it can drive out fear and turn anger completely around. Forgive your self and forgive your mate and strengthen your faith.
3. If you do act out of anger and create hurt feelings, apologize! If your feelings were hurt, forgive.
It is possible to communicate effectively when you are angry. Indeed it may one of the most important times to do so!
Please share your ideas below. How do you handle anger when it arises in your house?
Gina Parris is an international speaker, performance coach, wife, mother of four, and a champion for the Sexy Marriage. She is dedicated to helping people heal their sexual and relational issues. Throughout the past 28 years, Gina has served on staff of several large churches and encouraged thousands of people -privately, in groups, through television, radio and other media. She also speaks to organizations on topics dealing with home and work balance. Gina combines the best of Sports Psychology, Energy Therapy and Biblical promises to help people enjoy a Love Life marked by victory.