Do you see red when someone says something nasty that you do not deserve? Does your blood boil when you are not included in an important decision? Is your favorite way of responding to curse or kick a can? Does minor bad news make you shout obscenities?
Hey, it happens all the time.
You feel used, ignored or judged. Sometimes you just happen to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes it was an innocent mistake and you get reamed for it. The big question is what to do in the heat of the moment?
Much pop psychology suggests that the best thing is to either ignore the situation or simply not react. While this advice may keep things quiet for the moment it usually shows up later.
Like the gal who was furious with her boss for constantly giving her way too much work, especially pouring on extra projects every Friday afternoon. She did not speak up directly, instead she took a walk, counted backwards, and visualized her boss as an angel.
The resentment kept building internally although she smiled her way through the weeks. That was until the team dinner when the boss asked her to pass the butter and she said "Here, take the damn butter and by the way I hate your guts you overbearing jerk and I hope you choke on your food!"
Ignoring upset will cost you sooner or later.
I have learned that the best ways to handle the mad is to face it and not brush it under the rug. Here are some techniques that will keep you true to yourself, let you be heard and yet not cause a major rift:
- Stop: Take five seconds and drink a glass of water. This is enough time to cool the heat of the upset. No water around? Then take some swigs of air and blow the air out like you are blowing out a flame.
- Detach: Notice where the anger resides in your body. Put your hand on your head, neck, or gut and observe the feelings. Just doing this and the fury will begin to subside.
- Vent: Find someone you trust and use your most creative language to let the mad out. No one around? Talk to yourself and let it rip. Ride the upset like a wave that will soon come to shore.
- Visualize: See the other as a little child who was powerless. Often the one who makes you feel like crap is really a frightened child inside. This makes the other less intimidating as you prepare to discuss the situation.
- Identify: Look at your own triggers and notice why you became so challenged by what was said or done. Hint: Often is has to do with how conflict was resolved in your own family as you were growing up.
- Restructure: Change the negative thoughts of revenge and disappointment to the positive of "I can handle this successfully."
- Ask: Prepare to discuss the situation by having accountability questions ready such as "What do you want as an outcome of what just happened?" or "What was the purpose of what you just said."
- Emote: Use "I" statements that include how you feel. Hint: you have to feel a feeling such as sadness, hurt, anger, etc. You cannot feel "that" the other person did or did not do something such as "I feel THAT you gave me too much work."
- Listen: Once you say how the situation made you feel you are ready for the last part of the equation to say "And now I would like to hear from you." And then the task is to again take deep breaths and be quiet.
Let me know any other techniques you think can be added to this list. I believe how we handle conflict is one of the most vital frontiers to conquer for relating more effectively at work, at home, and in the world. Let's find the best solutions to face disputes and disappointments and get rid of avoiding or denying anger or fighting win-lose battles.