Communication is difficult for most of us. It is one of the most necessary interpersonal skills we need yet few have ever been formally trained in. For most, it's a learn-as-you-go process. What makes effective communicating so challenging is that we all converse on different levels and employ varying styles. To know each person's preferences and make the necessary adjustments to accommodate their needs takes a special proficiency, one that few are interested in developing or are ill-equipped to implement. Even under the most comfortable conditions we can find ourselves becoming irritated. Add to that the element of anger and frustration and the process becomes exasperating. Is it possible to communicate rationally when one or both parties are angry? Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
1. Remember that communication is a process of sharing thoughts, feelings, and ideas in an effort to better understand the issue at hand as well as the other person. It's not about arguing or fighting.
2. Listen not only with your ears but with your heart as well. Listen with the intent to understand rather than formulating your response. Remind yourself that the other person's position, feelings, and needs are as valid to them as yours are to you. Be compassionate and empathetic.
3. Say what you have to say in the most respectful way possible. There are multiple ways to express the same thoughts. Choose the one that will garner the most benefits rather than hurt or offend the other person. Psalms 141:3: “Help me to guard my words whenever I say something.”
4. While it is important to be truthful, remember that most truth is actually perception or opinion. Be flexible and open-minded to hearing an opposing position.
5. Learn to speak without offending, listen without defending. James 1:19: “You should be quick to listen and slow to speak or get angry.” Listening open-mindedly is an art that enables us to learn about ourselves.
6. Avoid accusations and assumptions. Deal with facts only.
7. If you or the other party find yourself becoming agitated, stop and take a break. Practice the SWaT Strategy.* Keep the conversation brief to avoid unnecessary stress or gaffes.
8. Refrain from using the terms right or wrong. Unless the issue is a moral one, most differences are simply that - differences. Right and wrong are not relevant and to engage in a competition of this nature is ego-based and counter-productive.
It's best to communicate when both parties are calm, open-minded, and rational. However, if anger begins to surface, one can still move forward effectively if they choose to practice the above mentioned techniques. But be forewarned: anything said or done in anger can be extremely damaging and cannot be undone. Therefore, proceed cautiously, taking great care to preserve the integrity of both parties and maintain a mutually respectful relationship.
Lord, let every word I speak be tempered with kindness.
*Stop, Walk, and Talk, from The Secret Side of Anger by Janet Pfeiffer
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Janet Pfeiffer, international inspirational speaker and award-winning author has appeared on CNN, Lifetime, ABC News, The 700 Club, NBC News, Fox News, The Harvest Show, Celebration, TruTV and many others. She’s been a guest on over 100 top radio shows (including Fox News Radio), is a contributor to Ebru Today TV and hosts her own radio show, Anger 911, on www.Anger911.net and Between You and God (iHeartRadio.com).
Janet's spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University, was a keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.
She's a former columnist for the Daily Record and contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo, Prime Woman Magazine, and N.J. Family. Her name has appeared in print more than 100 million times, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.
A consultant to corporations including AT&T, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, and Hoffman-LaRoche, Janet is N.J. State certified in domestic violence, an instructor at a battered women's shelter, and founder of The Antidote to Anger Group. She specializes in healing anger and conflict and creating inner peace and writes a weekly blog and bi-monthly newsletter.
Janet has authored 8 books, including the highly acclaimed The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times bestselling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel).
Read what Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author, says of Janet's latest book, The Great Truth; Shattering Life's Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life's Sole Purpose:
"Janet dispels the lies and misconceptions many people have lived by and outlines a practical path to an extraordinary life beyond suffering. Written with honesty, clarity, sincerity, and humor, this book serves as a wonderful guide for anyone seeking a more enriching and fulfilling life.”
Dr. Bernie Siegel says, "All books of wisdom are meant to be read more than once. The Great Truth is one such book."