Anger is just a feeling. It’s what we do with it that’s the problem.
When people don’t control their anger, it can be dangerous.
When I talk to managers, teams and leaders the question of anger always lingers beneath the subject of how to manage difficult conversations and how to deal with conflict.
Often the question that people have in their heads is: What happens if I get into a difficult conversation and I or the other person get really mad?
According to Mitch Abblett, clinical psychologist and author of several books on anger and anxiety in teenagers and young adults, we have four basic needs that, when not fulfilled, can trigger anger:
Respect. Is the person we’re talking to feeling insulted or dismissed, or that her boundaries are being ignored?
Space: Does the person I’m talking to have the physical and emotional space that he needs.
Validation: Am I acknowledging the feelings of the person I’m talking to, rather than making him feel that they aren’t real?
Peers: Is the person I’m talking to feeling accepted by her peers?
Before getting into a difficult conversation, ask yourself these questions:
What is the other person’s state of mind? Is he feeling respected, insulted, dismissed? (Notice that I’m asking whether the person feels this way, not whether you’re making them feel that way. This is a subtle but important difference.)
Does he have the physical and emotional space he needs in order to have this conversation?
Am I ready to acknowledge his feelings and point of view?
Is she feeling excluded and not accepted by her peers? How can I reinforce her sense of belonging during this conversation?
We can’t have brave conversations in an unsafe way.
Chose brave and safe. Always.