How to communicate anger without blame

August 28, 2013 

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 backfires 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.

To me, speaking up means sharing your thoughts, position 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.

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?

Marci Payne, resident of Lee’s Summit, is an Individual and Marriage Counselor in private practice: http://www.marcipayne.com

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