"It really works!" "Well, I'll be?!"
BJ like so many others in the workshop was astounded that a technique so simple could produce such an amazing result. You must try it. Next time your partner flares up in anger do this. In a very non-threatening calm and sincere tone of voice say...
"You're really mad right now?" or "Something I did made you angry?"
And watch the energy change. The anger dissipates almost like magic. A sense of relief replaces the intense emotion.
Most every time acknowledging anger in a compassionate manner diffuses the emotion and a rational conversation can continue. It works for life and business partners, for parents of teenagers, employers and staff, and even customer service representatives fielding calls from enraged consumers.
A word of caution, this technique is not to be used with the violent abuser, the rage-aholic, or a person under the influence of a mood altering substance. With this population this approach may well back fire and heighten the negative emotion instead of diffuse it. However, it works fantastically 99% of the time with those of us average folk who get frustrated and mad due to life's common stresses.
Wait a minute though, we're not done yet, there are two important keys to this 'magic' that you must remember:
Tone of Voice: This is so critical. If you come across the least bit hurt, angry yourself, or sarcastic you dispel the magic. Your partner, friend, child or colleague will get defensive and the anger will not dissipate. Your tone must be calm, totally sincere, warm and kind. For it to be that way you have to feel that way. Not necessarily easy if you are experiencing elevated emotions yourself. Therefore this tactic generally works best right at the onset of a possible argument and not when one is already raging.
So, the key here is act quickly, focus on remaining calm and genuinely feel for the other person.
Verbally identify the Anger: Formulating the right words is not as crucial as coming across sincere and kindly. It is important that you verbally state the perceived emotion, in this case anger. You may choose to label it 'frustration' or say 'annoyed' instead of 'anger' which ever you feel fits best. The important thing is to identify it in a questioning manner. Yes, it must be a question and not a statement of fact. You must allow the other person to confirm your assumption. If you express your comment as a fact your partner, friend, child or colleague is liable to stay anger and put up more barriers instead of allowing them to crumble.
Key here is to pose a brief question regarding the anger you perceive in such a manner that the other responds in the affirmative.
"Yes I am" is accompanied or immediately followed by a sense of release and a rational conversation is once again possible.
Where to go from here, well, that's for another discussion, for now just remember to stay calm and focused on the issue at hand and you'll do fine.
Remember, life is short?ENJOY!
Your Relationship Expert for Life and Business Partners
Margrit is a former Team Relationship Consultant for First Union Securities [now Wachovia], Morgan Stanley, and many small business owners and professionals. She was a marriage and family therapist for several years as well. Today Margrit offers free relationship advice on-line, writes articles for Horsesmouth [an on-line service for financial advisors] and makes money selling her Relationship Tests [called Awareness Tools]. Soon her Relationship Principles e-books [for Life and Business Partners] and other stuff to make bad relationships good and good relationships great will also be available at stratateam.com/WhyitWorks.asp