Hopefully you are learning ways to handle anger this week. A reminder that anger is normal, it's how you handle it that is negative or positive. We changed gears in yesterday's blog- focusing on how we can handle someone's anger in a relationship. This is a continuation of that. Tip #6 Empathetic Listening
It is amazing how a calming, listening ear can calm an angry soul. Sometimes when my kids are very angry I will encourage them to tell me what is going on (after some time to cool down and get it out of course!) If I listen to them, usually it solves 80% of the problem. After they have got it out (that looks different for everybody) and I have listened to them, they are usually more rational to solve it on their own.
Try this with your partner. Use phrases like, "What I hear you say is...." or "That must be really frustrating for you." Usually the last thing people want to hear when they are angry is how to solve their problem or have someone telling them that they need to calm down! Many times they just want to be heard and if possible, validated. Of course, this only works if the anger is not abusive. Appropriate anger is when they are just expressing their frustrations or concerns but usually with a lot of emotion or passion. Abuse is a totally different ball game.
Tip #7 Learning Together
Many times anger is a result of unmet needs or expectations in a relationship. After you have really "heard" your partner (or kids), listen for the "need". What are they not getting met?
I often see couples who have quit learning about each other and learning together. Never stop studying your partner and finding out what excites them or creates interest. If they are into golf, try it out or at least get some lessons together. If they like to read, try reading a book together and then discuss it. This can meet some of the needs that is fueling the anger.
In summary, LISTEN and LEARN!
Thank you for reading. Tomorrow Joleen will give 2 more tips.
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville