Tuesday 25 November 2008

The power of anger

Here's the thing. What do businesses, friendships and families have in common? They are made or broken with good or poor communication.

Poor communication can disable you. It can ruin a family. It can kill a relationship.

Even very blunt and direct people can communicate well though. The key is to learn how and when to use different styles.

However, really good communication begins with listening. Two ears, one mouth.

And one of the most perilous times in communication is when one person is angry - or worse, when both are.

Anger is perhaps the most frequently misunderstood emotion. It is almost always a defence, covering up someone's real feelings - consciously or unconsciously. People often get angry when they are hurt, and when this anger is stirred they can become aggressive.

The trick is to hold tight, let the aggression come out, and learn to speak at the right moment in the right way.

Take an apologetic, understanding stance and the aggression and anger fade. Take a defensive and contradicting stance and the situation spirals.

Then, with all the strength you can find, pick your way gently through the mess to achieve a constructive, reconciled outcome.


But being hurt or angry is never an excuse for personal, wounding comments. You need to learn to pause before breathing fire or taking out your verbal sword and slaying someone.

And if you're on the receiving end of such an attack, you have to learn to respond in a way that will increase the chances of an constructive outcome.

> see Working the Crowd.

If the other person is too angry to calm down, you have to take a break - suggest that the conversation continues later. No amount of good communication skills can deal with someone who won't calm down.

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