When I’m Angry How Do I Communicate Effectively?

We’ve all be there. Our bodies get heated, our chest pounds, and we’re so overcome by emotion that we explode. We lash out. We yell. We ignore. We stomp away. We shake our heads and laugh. So filled with emotion, we say things we don’t mean; we do things we don’t mean; we hurt ourselves and others without wanting to. We do all of this unconsciously, because we’re protecting ourselves; because we feel threatened in some way.

A lot of people ask me if it’s possible when we’re angry to communicate effectively?

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer: Yes, it’s possible to communicate effectively when you’re angry but it takes practice. And if it’s something you have to practice that means there’s a process you need to learn.

Here’s the process:

1: Awareness of What Anger Looks Like

  • Identify what anger looks like to you. When you’re angry do you yell, slam doors, get mean? Think of the last times you were angry, how did you act? This is not to judge or evaluate yourself, simply notice your reaction.

2: Awareness of What Anger Feels Like

  • Identify what anger feels like for you. Is it heat in the body? Is it a pounding in the chest? Is it tingling or sharp pains? You can think of the last times you were angry and tap into what the sensation was like in your body. Again, this isn’t to get down on yourself for it, but to become aware of the sensation of anger for you.

3. Acknowledge Your Anger

  • This question isn’t about preventing our anger, but how to communicate effectively while already angry.  So when you’re angry there is going to be a moment you notice you’re angry. You’ll see it in the way you’re acting (1) or feel it (2) and it’s the moment that you see your angry that you have two options.
    1. You can choose to communicate more effectively by saying to the other person, “I’m really angry right now. I’m really upset. I can’t interact in the way I’d like right now.” or “I’m really angry. Wow. I’d like to start again.” By acknowledging your anger in the moment, it has less power over you, which gives you an opportunity to change your interaction.
    2. You can acknowledge your anger silently, recognizing to yourself, “I’m really angry right now.” And then stop what you’re saying or doing. Breathe. Move the anger to the side for a moment and come back to the present moment, knowing you want to keep the integrity of the conversation in tact. Tell yourself you’d like to interact differently and begin again. Then once the conversation is over you can come back to the anger you felt during the conversation and work through whether it’s something you need to talk with the person about.

Tell me below how this process could be helpful for you in your interactions.

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