Is there another way to express
your angry feelings?
Sometimes, there doesn't seem to be any way to express angry feelings calmly. There
doesn't seem to be an option other than yelling or throwing things to let the other person know how upset you are. However,
you can express yourself in ways that are assertive but not aggressive. Assertive communication involves expressing your
feelings and making requests for change in a way that respects the other person.
In order to communicate assertively,
you must learn two types of communication. The first is nonverbal communication or body language. When people become angry,
it is often expressed in their body language as well as in their words. Aggressive, angry nonverbal communication can include
standing very close to the other person, clenching fists, crossing your arms, or avoiding eye contact. These actions may
be interpreted by the other person as intimidating or unreasonable. Assertive nonverbal communication involves maintaining
appropriate personal space, making eye contact, and keeping an open posture. An open posture includes keeping your arms uncrossed
and at your side, facing the person, and avoiding any threatening gestures. If your nonverbal communication is assertive
rather than aggressive, you convey the message that you are standing up for your rights in a calm and mature fashion.
The next step in communicating assertively is to change the way you express yourselfverbally. Aggressive, angry communication
can blame the other person, belittle or attack them, and express your opinions in a way that does not allow for compromise.
There are several steps involved in communicating assertively rather than aggressively.
1. Evaluate your rights in
the situation. Assertive communication expresses your rights in a situation and allows you to get the respect you deserve.
You must look at the situation carefully to determine your rights. For example, a student may have a right to challenge a
grade given by a professor. Assertive communication expresses the student's right to discuss their grade without aggressively
pursuing the grade they may want.
2. Designate a time to discuss what angers you. Often you will be more successful
in your requests for change if you set up an appropriate time to discuss your problem. An angry outburst in an inappropriate
situation may hurt your chances of getting what you want. Instead, ask the person if they have time to discuss the situation
in a place where your conversation can be private, calm, and constructive.
3. Address the issue that angers you in
terms of its consequences for you. Help the other person see how the situation is affecting you. A student may tell
his roommate that he feels disrespected when he is studying for an exam and the roommate invites friends over for a party
in their room. This type of assertive communication helps others understand your perspective in a way that is not threatening.
4. Express your feelings about the situation in a calm and constructive way. This can involve using "I-statements"
that focus on the individual's behavior and your reaction to it. For example, a person may say "I feel angry and embarrassed
when you make fun of me in front of your friends." This is an assertive statement that expresses this person's feelings without
blaming the other person or attacking them. Using the formula " I feel angry when you…." helps you stay calm and maintain
a less threatening environment. Avoid judgments or accusations that attack the person rather than their behavior. You want
to express yourself in a way that clearly communicates your feelings, but in a way that the other person does not feel attacked
and does not become defensive.
5. Make your request for changing the situation. It is important that you have
suggestions for improving the situation that are reasonable and that allow for solutions to the problem.
6. Be willing
to address the other party's needs and to compromise. If you have expressed yourself in an assertive way, the other party
is more likely to feel comfortable expressing their perspective. When everyone's needs have been discussed, appropriate and
fair solutions may be reached. You must be willing to compromise to meet both your needs and the needs of the other party.
In order to become comfortable with assertive communication, practice these skills with a friend or family member.
Together you can role play situations you may encounter and can work on communicating your needs assertively. Ask your friend
or family member for feedback about your words and your body language to make sure you are communicating in an assertive,
rather than aggressive,