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Communication skills for /related to While many companies now offer training in the different cultures where the

company conducts business, it is important that employees communicating across cultures practice patience and work to increase their knowledge and understanding of these cultures. This requires the ability to see that a person's own behaviors and reactions are oftentimes culturally driven and that while they may not match are own, they are culturally appropriate. If a leader or manager of a team that is working across cultures or incorporates individuals who speak different languages, practice different religions, or are members of a society that requires a new understanding, he or she needs to work to convey this. Consider any special needs the individuals on your team may have. For instance, they may observe different holidays, or even have different hours of operation. Be mindful of time zone differences and work to keep everyone involved aware and respectful of such differences. Generally speaking, patience, courtesy and a bit of curiosity go a long way. And, if you are unsure of any differences that may exist, simply ask team members. Again, this may best be done in a one-on-one setting so that no one feels "put on the spot" or self-conscious, perhaps even embarrassed, about discussing their own needs or differences or needs.

Demand Tolerance
Next, cultivate and demand understanding and tolerance. In doing this, a little education will usually do the trick. Explain to team members that the part of the team that works out of the Australia office, for example, will be working in a different time zone, so electronic communications and/or return phone calls will experience a delay. And, members of the India office will also observe different holidays (such as Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday, observed on Oct. 2). Most people will appreciate the information and will work hard to understand different needs and different means used to reach common goals. However, when this is not the case, lead by example and make it clear that you expect to be followed down a path of open-mindedness, acceptance and tolerance. Tip: Tolerance is essential, however you need to maintain standards of acceptable behavior. The following "rules of thumb" seem universal:

Team members should contribute to and not hinder the team's mission or harm the delivery to the team's customer. Team members should not damage the cohesion of the team or prevent it from becoming more effective.

Team members should not unnecessarily harm the interests of other team members.

Other factors (such as national law) are obviously important. When dealing with people in a different culture, courtesy and goodwill can also go a long way in ensuring successful communication. Again, this should be insisted on. If your starting point in solving problems is to assume that communication has failed, you'll find that many problems are quickly resolved.

Keep It Simple
When you communicate, keep in mind that even though English is considered the international language of business, it is a mistake to assume that every businessperson speaks good English. In fact, only about half of the 800 million people who speak English learned it as a first language. And, those who speak it as a second language are often more limited than native speakers. When you communicate cross-culturally, make particular efforts to keeping your communication clear, simple and unambiguous. And (sadly) avoid humor until you know that the person you're communicating with "gets it" and isn't offended by it. Humor is notoriously culture-specific: Many things that pass for humor in one culture can be seen as grossly offensive in another.

And Get Help If You Need It

Finally, if language barriers present themselves, it may be in every one's best interest to employ a reliable, experienced translator. Because English is not the first language of many international businesspeople, their use of the language may be peppered with culture-specific or non-standard English phrases, which can hamper the communication process. Again, having a translator on hand (even if just during the initial phases of work) may be the best solution here. The translator can help everyone involved to recognize cultural and communication differences and ensure that all parties, regardless of geographic location and background, come together and stay together through successful project completion.

Role Playing

Preparing for difficult conversations and situations

Act out possible scenarios. iStockphoto/jgroup Role playing is a useful technique for thinking about difficult situations before they occur, so that you have good pre-prepared responses for the different eventualities that can arise. Role-playing can also be used to analyze problems from different perspectives, to spark brainstorming sessions, to experiment with different solutions to a problem, to develop team work, and help group problem-solving. Role-playing happens when a group of people act out roles in a particular scenario. The scenario is usually based on a problem that needs a solution, a situation that needs to be more closely examined, or a case or issue that demands a different perspective. By acting the scenario through, participants can pre-experience the likely reactions to different approaches, and can get a feel for the approaches that will work and those that might be counterproductive. They can get a good feel for what people are likely to be thinking and feeling in the situation. And by repeating the scenarios, people can understand how different approaches might work, so that an ideal approach can be identified. More than this, by preparing for a situation using role-play, people build up experience and selfconfidence in handling the situation in real life. They develop quick and instinctively correct reactions to situations, meaning that they can react effectively as situations evolve rather than making mistakes or being overwhelmed by events.

How to Use the Tool:

To start the process, the role play leader introduces the problem and encourages an open

discussion in order to uncover all the relevant issues. This also serves to get participants thinking about the problem before the role-playing begins. From this, participants set up a role playing scenario in enough detail for it to feel real. The next step is to identify the different "people" involved in the scenario. Some of these will be people from within the organization who have to deal with the situation. Others will represent people from outside the organization, and may take roles that are supportive or hostile, depending on the scenario. Individual participants in the role play are allocated the roles of each of these people, and try to put themselves "inside the minds" of these people in their imaginations. This involves trying to understand the perspectives of these people, their goals and motivations, and the way they are feeling when they enter the situation. Participants then act the situations through, trying different approaches to resolving the problems faced. A useful approach is for scenarios to build up in intensity, starting easily with all parties being well-disposed towards one-another. As participants get experience in handling these simple situations, the participants playing the roles of people from outside the organization can get increasingly hostile or difficult, testing out the correct approaches for handling these situations and giving people experience in handling them. Upon completion of the role-playing, the trainer leads a discussion on the role-play and solicits written summaries of the activities from all involved. These can be compiled into a single brief and distributed to participants.

In an effort to improve customer support, John, Customer Service Manager for Mythco Technologies, implements a team role-playing session. Acting as the leader/trainer, John brings together a group of software developers and customer support representatives. John divides the 12 colleagues into two role-playing groups: Group 1 represents the customer support representatives; Group 2 represents the customer. John tells Group 1 that the customer in this situation is one of Mythco's longest-standing customers and this customer accounts for nearly 15% of the company's overall annual revenue. In short, this customer cannot be lost! John tells Group 2 that, as the customer, they have recently received a software product that does not live up to its expectations. While the customer has a long-standing relationship with Mythco, this time they are growing weary because what they believe to be inferior software has been sold to them on two separate occasions. Clearly, the relationship with Mythco is in jeopardy.

John now allows the groups to brainstorm for a few minutes. Next (with this particular approach to role play) each group sends forth an "actor" to role-play. The actor receives support and coaching from members of his/her team throughout the entire role-playing process. Each team is able to take time-outs and regroup quickly as needed. John runs through the scenario several times, starting with the "customer" playing gently and ending with the customer playing extremely aggressively. And each time, a best solution is found. Of course, John can always ask for additional roleplaying and additional solutions if he feels the process needs to continue or that viable solutions have yet to be uncovered. Once it is clear no more solutions are to be found, John brings the two groups together and the role-playing is discussed. During this discussion, John and both teams discuss the strategies and the solutions that were implemented and then apply these to the actual situation. John also asks each team to write a short summary about what they learned from the role-playing exercise. He then combines the summaries and provides a copy of everything learned to all participants. they've understood fully. And if you're receiving this sort of communication, repeat it in your own words to check your understanding.

Key Points
It can take a lot of effort to communicate effectively. However, you need to be able to communicate well if you're going to make the most of the opportunities that life has to offer. By learning the skills you need to communicate effectively, you can learn how to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively, and understand much more of the information that's conveyed to you. As either a speaker or a listener, or as a writer or a reader, you're responsible for making sure that the message is communicated accurately. Pay attention to words and actions, ask questions, and watch body language. These will all help you ensure that you say what you mean, and hear what is intended. You can learn 600 similar skills elsewhere on this site. Click here to see our full toolkit. If you like our approach, you can subscribe to our free newsletter, or become a member for just US$1.
Did you find this article helpful? No Yes

Tip: On one hand, life is full of ups and downs, and you'll look silly and out of control if you are often conducting crisis communication. Also, you need to be careful about communicating information that can itself damage you. On the other, trust is essential in business. If people feel that you, your brand or your company can no longer be trusted, this can be fatal for your business. Customers may prefer to go to a more trustworthy competitor. Teamwork may break down. Employees may move jobs. And people will be more cautious in dealing with you, raising the costs of doing business.

Communicating in a Crisis

Dont shut down communication

iStockphoto/SchulteProductions When a crisis or some other adverse situation occurs, the natural instinct is to close ranks, work furiously to contain the damage, and set the situation back to normal. We go into protection mode for both our organization and ourselves. However this approach can badly wrong. We've all seen major companies terribly wounded when the press senses a "cover up." And we may also have seen situations where gossip has spiraled out of control with damaging results. When official communication channels are shut down, communication does not stop. In fact it

can often increase. The problem is that this communication can be full of rumor, innuendo, inconsistencies, half truths, and exaggerations. More than this, the trust and confidence of employees and clients can be undermined, with often-damaging long term consequences. This is where the best thing to do in a crisis can be to communicate the facts and issues surrounding them clearly, quickly and consistently. Tip: On one hand, life is full of ups and downs, and you'll look silly and out of control if you are often conducting crisis communication. Also, you need to be careful about communicating information that can itself damage you. On the other, trust is essential in business. If people feel that you, your brand or your company can no longer be trusted, this can be fatal for your business. Customers may prefer to go to a more trustworthy competitor. Teamwork may break down. Employees may move jobs. And people will be more cautious in dealing with you, raising the costs of doing business.

Staying in Control

The Johari Window

Creating Better Understanding Between Individuals and Groups

iStockphoto/asiseeit The Johari Window is a communication model that can be used to improve understanding between individuals within a team or in a group setting. Based on disclosure, self-disclosure and feedback, the Johari Window can also be used to improve a group's relationship with other groups. Developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (the word "Johari" comes from Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham), there are two key ideas behind the tool:
1. That individuals can build trust with others by disclosing information about themselves. 2. That they can learn about themselves and come to terms with personal issues with the help of feedback from others.

By explaining the idea of the Johari Window to your team, you can help team members understand the value of self-disclosure, and gently encourage people to give and accept feedback. Done sensitively, this can help people build more-trusting relationships with one another, solve issues and work more effectively as a team.

Explaining the Johari Window:

The Johari Window model consists of a foursquare grid (think of taking a piece of paper and dividing it into four parts by drawing one line down the middle of the paper from top to bottom, and another line through the middle of the paper from side-to-side). This is shown in the diagram below:

Using the Johari model, each person is represented by their own four-quadrant, or four-pane, window. Each of these contains and represents personal information feelings, motivation, etc. about the person, and shows whether the information is known or not known by themselves or

other people. The four quadrants are: Quadrant 1: Open Area What is known by the person about him/herself and is also known by others. Quadrant 2: Blind Area, or "Blind Spot" What is unknown by the person about him/herself but which others know. This can be simple information, or can involve deep issues (for example, feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, rejection) which are difficult for individuals to face directly, and yet can be seen by others. Quadrant 3: Hidden or Avoided Area What the person knows about him/herself that others do not. Quadrant 4: Unknown Area What is unknown by the person about him/herself and is also unknown by others. The process of enlarging the open quadrant vertically is called self-disclosure, a give and take process between the person and the people he/she interacts with. As information is shared, the boundary with the hidden quadrant moves downwards. And as other people reciprocate, trust tends to build between them. Tip 1: Don't be rash in your self-disclosure. Disclosing harmless items builds trust. However, disclosing information which could damage people's respect for you can put you in a position of weakness.

Using the Tool:

The process of enlarging the open quadrant horizontally is one of feedback. Here the individual learns things about him- or her-self that others can see, but he or she can't. Tip 2: Be careful in the way you give feedback. Some cultures have a very open and accepting approach to feedback. Others don't. You can cause incredible offence if you offer personal feedback to someone who's not used to it. Be sensitive, and start gradually. If anyone is interested in learning more about this individual, they reciprocate by disclosing information in their hidden quadrant. For example, the first participant may disclose that he/she is a runner. The other participant may respond by adding that he/she works out regularly at the local gym, and may then disclose that the gym has recently added an indoor jogging track for winter runners.

As one's levels of confidence and self-esteem rises, it is easier to invite others to comment on one's blind spots. Obviously, active and empathic listening skills are useful in this exercise.

The Johari Window in a Team Context

Keep in mind that established team members will have larger open areas than new team members. New team members start with smaller open areas because little knowledge about the new team member has yet been shared. The size of the Open Area can be expanded horizontally into the blind space, by seeking and actively listening to feedback from other group members. Group members should strive to assist a team member in expanding their Open Area by offering constructive feedback. The size of the Open Area can also be expanded vertically downwards into the hidden or avoided space by the sender's disclosure of information, feelings, etc about himself/herself to the group and group members. Also, group members can help a person expand their Open Area into the hidden area by asking the sender about himself/herself. Managers and team leaders play a key role here, facilitating feedback and disclosure among group members, and by providing constructive feedback to individuals about their own blind areas.

Key Points:
In most cases, the aim in groups should be to develop the Open Area for every person. Working in this area with others usually allows for enhanced individual and team effectiveness and productivity. The Open Area is the 'space' where good communications and cooperation occur, free from confusion, conflict and misunderstanding. Self-disclosure is the process by which people expand the Open Area vertically. Feedback is the process by which people expand this area horizontally. By encouraging healthy self-disclosure and sensitive feedback, you can build a stronger and more effective team.

Yes" to the Person, "No" to the Task

Asserting Yourself While Maintaining Relationships

Offer an alternative to a straight "No". iStockphoto/jacus The word "negotiation" conjures up images of high-pressure situations, where people have a lot to lose if they get things wrong. In fact, you probably negotiate several times each day. You do it at home and at work for all sorts of things, from deciding what to make for dinner, to settling on terms for a job promotion. Because of this, you are a negotiator, even if you don't think of yourself as one! But how well do you negotiate? Do you know how to recognize situations where negotiating is appropriate? And do you understand the elements of an effective negotiation? In this article, we'll discuss some of the fundamentals of negotiating successfully, so that you can meet your needs without causing conflict when you do have to say "no".

Conflict Resolution Skills

Building the Skills That Can Turn Conflicts into Opportunities

Conflict is a normal and necessary part of healthy relationships. After all, two people cant be expected to agree on everything at all times. Therefore, learning how to deal with conflict rather than avoiding itis crucial. When conflict is mismanaged, it can harm the relationship. But when handled in a respectful and positive way, conflict provides an opportunity for growth, ultimately strengthening the bond between two people. By learning the skills you need for successful conflict resolution, you can face disagreements with confidence and keep your personal and professional relationships strong and growing.
In This Article:

Understanding conflict in relationships Conflict may feel more threatening Successful conflict resolution Quick stress relief Emotional awareness Nonverbal communication Humor Tips for managing and resolving conflict Related articles and resources

Understanding conflict in relationships

Conflict arises from differences. It occurs whenever people disagree over their values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. Sometimes these differences look trivial, but when a

conflict triggers strong feelings, a deep personal need is at the core of the problem, such as a need to feel safe and secure, a need to feel respected and valued, or a need for greater closeness and intimacy.
Conflicts arise from differing needs

Everyone needs to feel understood, nurtured, and supported, but the ways in which these needs are met vary widely. Differing needs for feeling comfortable and safe create some of the most severe challenges in our personal and professional relationships. Think about the conflicting need for safety and continuity versus the need to explore and take risks. You frequently see this conflict between toddlers and their parents. The childs need is to explore, so the street or the cliff meets a need. But the parents need is to protect the childs safety, so limiting exploration becomes a bone of contention between them. It is important to acknowledge that both parties needs play important roles in the long-term success of most relationships, and each deserves respect and consideration. In personal relationships, a lack of understanding about differing needs can result in distance, arguments, and break-ups. In workplace conflicts, differing needs are often at the heart of bitter disputes. When you can recognize the legitimacy of conflicting needs and become willing to examine them in an environment of compassionate understanding, it opens pathways to creative problem solving, team building, and improved relationships.
Conflict 101

A conflict is more than just a disagreement. It is a situation in which one or both parties perceive a threat (whether or not the threat is real). Conflicts continue to fester when ignored. Because conflicts involve perceived threats to our well-being and survival, they stay with us until we face and resolve them. We respond to conflicts based on our perceptions of the situation, not necessarily to an objective review of the facts. Our perceptions are influenced by our life experiences, culture, values, and beliefs. Conflicts trigger strong emotions. If you arent comfortable with your emotions or able to manage them in times of stress, you wont be able to resolve conflict successfully. Conflicts are an opportunity for growth. When youre able to resolve conflict in a relationship, it builds trust. You can feel secure, knowing your relationship can survive challenges and disagreements.

Conflict may feel more threatening to you than it really is

Do you fear conflict or avoid it at all costs? If your perception of conflict comes from frightening or painful memories from previous unhealthy relationships or your early childhood, you may expect all present-day disagreements to end badly. You may view conflict in relationships as demoralizing, humiliating, dangerous, and something to fear. If your early life experiences also

left you feeling out of control and powerless, conflict may even be traumatizing for you. If you view conflict as dangerous, it tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you go into a conflict situation already feeling extremely threatened, its tough to deal with the problem at hand in a healthy way. Instead, you are more likely to shut down or blow up in anger. Healthy and unhealthy ways of managing and resolving conflict Unhealthy responses to conflict: Healthy responses to conflict

An inability to recognize and respond to the things that matter to the other person Explosive, angry, hurtful, and resentful reactions The withdrawal of love, resulting in rejection, isolation, shaming, and fear of abandonment An inability to compromise or see the other persons side The fear and avoidance of conflict; the expectation of bad outcomes

The capacity to recognize and respond to the things that matter to the other person Calm, non-defensive, and respectful reactions A readiness to forgive and forget, and to move past the conflict without holding resentments or anger The ability to seek compromise and avoid punishing A belief that facing conflict head is the best thing for both sides

Successful conflict resolution depends on your ability to regulate stress and your emotions
Conflict triggers strong emotions and can lead to hurt feelings, disappointment, and discomfort. When handled in an unhealthy manner, it can cause irreparable rifts, resentments, and break-ups. But when conflict is resolved in a healthy way, it increases our understanding of one another, builds trust, and strengthens our relationship bonds. If you are out of touch with your feelings or so stressed that you can only pay attention to a limited number of emotions, you wont be able to understand your own needs. If you dont understand your needs, you will have a hard time communicating with others and staying in touch with what is really troubling you. For example, couples often argue about petty differencesthe way she hangs the towels, the way he parts his hairrather than what is really bothering them.
The ability to successfully resolve conflict depends on your ability to:

Manage stress quickly while remaining alert and calm. By staying calm, you can accurately read and interpret verbal and nonverbal communication. Control your emotions and behavior. When youre in control of your emotions, you can communicate your needs without threatening, frightening, or punishing others. Pay attention to the feelings being expressed as well as the spoken words of others. Be aware of and respectful of differences. By avoiding disrespectful words and actions, you can resolve the problem faster.

In order to do this you will need to learn and practice two core skills: the ability to quickly reduce stress in the moment and the ability to remain comfortable enough with your emotions to react in constructive ways even in the midst of an argument or a perceived attack.

Quick stress relief: The first core conflict resolution skill

Being able to manage and relieve stress in the moment is the key to staying balanced, focused, and in control, no matter what challenges you face. If you dont know how to stay centered and in control of yourself, you will become overwhelmed in conflict situations and unable to respond in healthy ways. Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when theyre overwhelmed by stress:

Foot on the gas. An angry or agitated stress response. Youre heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still. Foot on the brake. A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion. Foot on both gas and brake. A tense and frozen stress response. You freeze under pressure and cant do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface youre extremely agitated.

Stress interferes with the ability to resolve conflict by limiting your ability to:

Accurately read another person's nonverbal communication. Hear what someone is really saying. Be aware of your own feelings. Be in touch with your deep-rooted needs. Communicate your needs clearly.

Is stress a problem or you?

You may be so used to being stressed that you're not even aware you are stressed. Stress may be a problem in your life if you identify with the following:

You often feel tense or tight somewhere in your body. You're not aware of movement in your chest or stomach when you breathe. Conflict absorbs your time and attention.

Learn how to beat stress in the moment

The best way to rapidly and reliably relieve stress (if you don't have someone close at hand to talk to) is through the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. But each person responds

differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you. Read article.

Emotional awareness: The second core conflict resolution skill

Need More Conflict Resolution Help? Helpguide's Bring Your Life into Balance mindfulness toolkit can help. Emotional awareness is the key to understanding yourself and others. If you dont know how you feel or why you feel that way, you wont be able to communicate effectively or smooth over disagreements. Although knowing your own feelings may seem simple, many people ignore or try to sedate strong emotions like anger, sadness, and fear. But your ability to handle conflict depends on being connected to these feelings. If youre afraid of strong emotions or if you insist on finding solutions that are strictly rational, your ability to face and resolve differences will be impaired.
Why emotional awareness is a key factor in resolving conflict

Emotional awarenessconsciousness of your moment-to-moment emotional experienceand the ability to manage all of your feelings appropriately is the basis of a communication process that can resolve conflict. Emotional awareness helps you:

Understand what is really troubling other people Understand yourself, including what is really troubling you Stay motivated until the conflict is resolved Communicate clearly and effectively Attract and influence others

Assessing your ability to recognize and manage emotions

The following quiz helps you assess your level of emotional awareness. Answer the following questions with: almost never, occasionally, often, very frequently, or almost always. There are no right or wrong responses, only the opportunity to become better acquainted with your emotional responses.
What kind of relationship do I have with my emotions?

Do I experience feelings that flow, encountering one emotion after another as your experiences change from moment to moment? Are my emotions accompanied by physical sensations that you experience in places like your stomach or chest?

Do I experience discrete feelings and emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear, joy, each of which is evident in subtle facial expressions? Can I experience intense feelings that are strong enough to capture both your attention and that of others? Do I pay attention to your emotions? Do they factor into your decision making?

If any of these experiences are unfamiliar, your emotions may be turned down or turned off. In either case, you may need help developing your emotional awareness. Learn more.

Nonverbal communication plays a big role in conflict resolution

The most important information exchanged during conflicts and arguments is often communicated nonverbally. Nonverbal communication is conveyed by emotionally-driven facial expressions, posture, gesture, pace, tone and intensity of voice.
The most important communication is wordless

When people are upset, the words they use rarely convey the issues and needs at the heart of the problem. When we listen for what is felt as well as said, we connect more deeply to our own needs and emotions, and to those of other people. Listening in this way also strengthens us, informs us, and makes it easier for others to hear us. When youre in the middle of a conflict, paying close attention to the other persons nonverbal signals may help you figure out what the other person is really saying, respond in a way that builds trust, and get to the root of the problem. Simple nonverbal signals such as a calm tone of voice, a reassuring touch, or an interested or concerned facial expression can go a long way toward relaxing a tense exchange. Your ability to accurately read another person depends on your own emotional awareness. The more aware you are of your own emotions, the easier it will be for you to pick up on the wordless clues that reveal what others are feeling.

Humor, judiciously used, can effectively defuse conflict

Once stress and emotion are brought into balance your capacity for joy, pleasure and playfulness is unleashed. Joy is a deceptively powerful resource. Studies show that you can surmount adversity, as long as you continue to have moments of joy. Humor plays a similar role when the challenge you're facing is conflict. You can avoid many confrontations and resolve arguments and disagreements by communicating in a playful or humorous way. Humor can help you say things that might otherwise be difficult to express without creating a flap. However, its important that you laugh with the other person, not at them. When humor and play is used to reduce tension and anger, reframe problems, and put the situation into perspective, the conflict can actually become an opportunity for greater connection and intimacy.

Tips for managing and resolving conflict

Managing and resolving conflict requires the ability to quickly reduce stress and bring your emotions into balance. You can ensure that the process is as positive as possible by sticking to the following conflict resolution guidelines:

Listen for what is felt as well as said. When we listen we connect more deeply to our own needs and emotions, and to those of other people. Listening in this way also strengthens us, informs us, and makes it easier for others to hear us. Make conflict resolution the priority rather than winning or "being right." Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than winning the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint. Focus on the present. If youre holding on to old hurts and resentments, your ability to see the reality of the current situation will be impaired. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here-and-now to solve the problem. Pick your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so its important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. Maybe you don't want to surrender a parking space if youve been circling for 15 minutes. But if there are dozens of spots, arguing over a single space isnt worth it. Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if youre unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives. Know when to let something go. If you cant come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.

Related articles, resources, and references for conflict


Related Helpguide Articles Resources and References for Conflict Resolution

Quick Stress Relief Learn how you respond to stress along with fast and effective ways to rapidly reduce stress. Developing Emotional Awareness Learn more about the role your emotions play and how you can better manage them. Nonverbal Communication Skills Nonverbal communication speaks louder than words in interpersonal relationships. Learning more about nonverbal cues will improve your ability to understand and resolve differences in all your relationships. Playful Communication in Relationships Playful communication can go a long way in easing and resolving many minor issues that could otherwise escalate into bigger issues.
General information about conflict resolution

Fighting Fair To Resolve Conflict Covers the causes of conflict, different conflict styles, and fair fighting guidelines to help you positively resolve disagreements. (University of Texas at Austin) Conflict Resolution Comprehensive resource on how to manage and resolve conflict. Includes About Conflict and 8 Steps for Conflict Resolution. (University of Wisconsin, Madison) CR Kit 12-step conflict resolution training kit. Learn how to pursue a win-win approach, manage emotions, be appropriately assertive, map the conflict, and develop options. (The Conflict Resolution Network) Conflict Resolution: Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively Guide to conflict in the workplace and different conflict styles. Includes a 5-step process for successful conflict resolution. (MindTools)
Tips for managing and resolving conflict

Resolving Conflict Constructively and Respectfully Tips on how to manage and resolve conflict in a positive, respectful, and mutually-beneficial way. (Ohio State University Extension) How to Resolve Conflict Advice on resolving differences and managing conflict between individuals, small groups, and organizations. (Roger Darlington) Effective Communication Article on the art of listening in conflict resolution. Includes tips on how to make your point effectively and negotiate conflict in principled, positive way. (University

of Maryland) Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. Last updated: November 2011. All rights reserved. This reprint is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Visit WWW.HELPGUIDE.ORG for more information and related articles.

Anger Management

Tips and Techniques for Getting Anger Under Control

Are you famous for your short temper? Do you have a short fuse or find yourself getting into frequent arguments normal, healthy emotion, but its unhealthy when it flares up all the time or spirals out of control. Chronic, explo serious consequences for your relationships, your health, and your state of mind.

The good news is that getting anger under control is easier than you might think. With a little insight into the real anger and some effective anger management tools, you can learn how to express your feelings in healthier ways a from hijacking your life.
In This Article:

Understanding anger Controlling your anger What's behind your anger Warning signs and triggers

Ways to cool down Healthier ways to express anger When to seek help If a loved one has an anger problem Related links Authors


Text Size

Understanding anger

The emotion of anger is neither good nor bad. Its perfectly healthy and normal to feel angry when youve been m The feeling isn't the problemit's what you do with it that makes a difference. Anger becomes a problem when i

If you have a hot temper, you may feel like its out of your hands and theres little you can do to tame the beast. B control over your anger than you think. You can learn to express your emotions without hurting othersand whe only feel better, youll also be more likely to get your needs met. Mastering the art of anger management takes w practice, the easier it will get. And the payoff can be huge. Learning to control your anger and express it appropri build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a healthier, more satisfying life.
Myths and Facts about Anger

Myth: I shouldnt hold in my anger. Its healthy to vent and let it out.

Fact: While its true that suppressing and ignoring anger is unhealthy, venting is no better. Anger is not somethin out in an aggressive way in order to avoid blowing up. In fact, outbursts and tirades only fuel the fire and reinfo problem. Myth: Anger, aggression, and intimidation help me earn respect and get what I want.

Fact: True power doesnt come from bullying others. People may be afraid of you, but they wont respect you if yourself or handle opposing viewpoints. Others will be more willing to listen to you and accommodate your need in a respectful way. Myth: I cant help myself. Anger isnt something you can control.

Fact: You cant always control the situation youre in or how it makes you feel, but you can control how you exp you can express your anger without being verbally or physically abusive. Even if someone is pushing your button choice about how to respond. Myth: Anger management is about learning to suppress your anger.

Fact: Never getting angry is not a good goal. Anger is normal, and it will come out regardless of how hard you tr management is all about becoming aware of your underlying feelings and needs and developing healthier ways to

than trying to suppress your anger, the goal is to express it in constructive ways.

Why learning to control your anger is important

You might think that venting your anger is healthy, that the people around you are too sensitive, that your anger i need to show your fury to get respect. But the truth is that anger is much more likely to damage your relationship judgment, get in the way of success, and have a negative impact on the way people see you.

Out-of-control anger hurts your physical health. Constantly operating at high levels of stress and tension is bad f anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, a weakened immune system blood pressure. Out-of-control anger hurts your mental health. Chronic anger consumes huge amounts of mental energy and clo making it harder to concentrate, see the bigger picture, and enjoy life. It can also lead to stress, depression, and o problems. Out-of-control anger hurts your career. Constructive criticism, creative differences, and heated debate can be he only alienates your colleagues, supervisors, or clients and erodes their respect. Whats more, a bad reputation ca you go, making it harder and harder to get ahead. Out-of-control anger hurts your relationships with others. It causes lasting scars in the people you love most and friendships and work relationships. Chronic, intense anger makes it hard for others to trust you, speak honestly, o they never know what is going to set you off or what you will do. Explosive anger is especially damaging to childre

Anger control and management tip 1: Explore whats really behind you
Get More Help with Anger Management Helpguide's Bring Your Life into Balance mindfulness toolkit can help.

If youre struggling with out-of-control anger, you may be wondering why your fuse is so short. Anger problems youve learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you migh anger is supposed to be expressed. Traumatic events and high levels of stress can make you more susceptible to a
Anger is often a cover-up for other feelings

In order to get your needs met and express your anger in appropriate ways, you need to be in touch with what yo Are you truly angry? Or is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or

If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, it is very likely that your temper is covering up your true f This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an ad hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger.
Clues that theres something more to your anger

You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other peoples points of view, and even har If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or he loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.

You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger. Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control, ne down? Do you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame dont apply to you? Everyone has those emotions, and you may be using anger as a cover for them. You view different opinions and viewpoints as a personal challenge to you. Do you believe that your way is alwa when others disagree? If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other perspec your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.

If you are uncomfortable with many emotions, disconnected, or stuck on an angry one-note response to everythin some good to get back in touch with your feelings. Emotional awareness is the key to self-understanding and suc the ability to recognize, manage, and deal with the full range of human emotions, youll inevitably spin into conf self-doubt.
Some Dynamics of Anger

We become more angry when we are stressed and body resources are down. We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think. We are often angry when we didn't get what we needed as a child. We often become angry when we see a trait in others we can't stand in ourselves. Underneath many current angers are old disappointments, traumas, and triggers. Sometimes we get angry because we were hurt as a child. We get angry when a current event brings up an old unresolved situation from the past. We often feel strong emotion when a situation has a similar content, words or energy that we have felt before.

Source: Get Your Angries Out

Anger control and management tip 2: Be aware of your anger warning triggers

While you might feel that you just explode into anger without warning, in fact, there are physical warning signs i a normal physical response. It fuels the fight or flight system of the body, and the angrier you get, the more you overdrive. Becoming aware of your own personal signs that your temper is starting to boil allows you to take step anger before it gets out of control.
Pay attention to the way anger feels in your body

Knots in your stomach Clenching your hands or jaw Feeling clammy or flushed Breathing faster Headaches Pacing or needing to walk around Seeing red Having trouble concentrating

Pounding heart Tensing your shoulders

Identify the negative thought patterns that trigger your temper

You may think that external thingsthe insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situations anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about wha negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:

Overgeneralizing. For example, You always interrupt me. You NEVER consider my needs. EVERYONE disrespects credit I deserve. Obsessing on shoulds and musts. Having a rigid view of the way things should or must be and getting angry w up with this vision. Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming you know what someone else is thinking or feelingthat upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you. Collecting straws. Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positi irritations build and build until you reach the final straw and explode, often over something relatively minor. Blaming. When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, its always someone elses fault. You blame othe happen to you rather than taking responsibility for your own life.

Avoid people, places, and situations that bring out your worst

Stressful events dont excuse anger, but understanding how these events affect you can help you take control of y avoid unnecessary aggravation. Look at your regular routine and try to identify activities, times of day, people, p trigger irritable or angry feelings. Maybe you get into a fight every time you go out for drinks with a certain grou the traffic on your daily commute drives you crazy. Then think about ways to avoid these triggers or view the sit doesnt make your blood boil.

Anger control and management tip 3: Learn ways to cool down

Once you know how to recognize the warning signs that your temper is rising and anticipate your triggers, you ca with your anger before it spins out of control. There are many techniques that can help you cool down and keep y Learn more.
Quick tips for cooling down

Focus on the physical sensations of anger. While it may seem counterintuitive, tuning into the way your body fee often lessens the emotional intensity of your anger. Take some deep breaths. Deep, slow breathing helps counteract rising tension. The key is to breathe deeply from as much fresh air as possible into your lungs. Exercise. A brisk walk around the block is a great idea. It releases pent-up energy so you can approach the situatio Use your senses. Take advantage of the relaxing power of your sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Yo music or picturing yourself in a favorite place.

Stretch or massage areas of tension. Roll your shoulders if you are tensing them, for example, or gently massage Slowly count to ten. Focus on the counting to let your rational mind catch up with your feelings. If you still feel ou you reach ten, start counting again.

Give yourself a reality check

When you start getting upset about something, take a moment to think about the situation. Ask yourself:

How important is it in the grand scheme of things? Is it really worth getting angry about it? Is it worth ruining the rest of my day? Is my response appropriate to the situation? Is there anything I can do about it? Is taking action worth my time?

Anger control and management tip 4: Find healthier ways to express y

If youve decided that the situation is worth getting angry about and theres something you can do to make it bett express your feelings in a healthy way. When communicated respectfully and channeled effectively, anger can be of energy and inspiration for change.
Pinpoint what youre really angry about

Have you ever gotten into an argument over something silly? Big fights often happen over something small, like ten minutes late. But theres usually a bigger issue behind it. If you find your irritation and anger rapidly rising, a I really angry about? Identifying the real source of frustration will help you communicate your anger better, take and work towards a resolution.
Take five if things get too heated

If your anger seems to be spiraling out of control, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes or for as cool down. A brisk walk, a trip to the gym, or a few minutes listening to some music should allow you to calm do emotion, and then approach the situation with a cooler head.
Always fight fair

Its okay to be upset at someone, but if you dont fight fair, the relationship will quickly break down. Fighting fa express your own needs while still respecting others.

Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than winning the a be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.

Focus on the present. Once you are in the heat of arguing, its easy to start throwing past grievances into the mix the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present to solve the problem. Choose your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so its important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of you pick your battles rather than fighting over every little thing, others will take you more seriously when you are Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if youre unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in rele punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining o Know when to let something go. If you cant come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to kee a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.

Developing your conflict resolution skills

The way you respond to differences and disagreements at home and at work can create hostility and irreparable r safety and trust. Learning how to resolve conflict in a positive way will help you strengthen your relationships. Read article.

When to seek help for anger management

If your anger is still spiraling out of control, despite putting the previous anger management techniques into prac getting into trouble with the law or hurting othersyou need more help. There are many therapists, classes, and with anger management problems. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Youll often find others in the same direct feedback on techniques for controlling anger can be tremendously helpful.
Consider professional help if:

You feel constantly frustrated and angry no matter what you try. Your temper causes problems at work or in your relationships. You avoid new events and people because you feel like you cant control your temper. You have gotten in trouble with the law due to your anger. Your anger has ever led to physical violence.

Therapy for anger problems. Therapy can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger. If you dont k getting angry, its very hard to control. Therapy provides a safe environment to learn more about your reasons an your anger. Its also a safe place to practice new skills in expressing your anger. Anger management classes or groups. Anger management classes or groups allow you to see others coping with will also learn tips and techniques for managing your anger and hear other peoples stories. For domestic violence anger management is usually not recommended. There are special classes that go to the issue of power and cont of domestic violence.

If your loved one has an anger management problem

If your loved one has an anger problem, you probably feel like youre walking on eggshells all the time. But alwa

are not to blame for your loved ones anger. There is never an excuse for physically or verbally abusive behavior be treated with respect and to live without fear of an angry outburst or a violent rage.
Tips for dealing with a loved ones anger management problem

While you cant control another persons anger, you can control how you respond to it:

Set clear boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate. Wait for a time when you are both calm to talk to your loved one about the anger problem. Dont bring it up whe already angry. Remove yourself from the situation if your loved one does not calm down. Consider counseling or therapy for yourself if you are having a hard time standing up for yourself. Put your safety first. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe or threatened in any way, get away from your loved on safe.

Anger isnt the real problem in abusive relationships

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abusers loss of control over his In fact, abusive behavior is a deliberate choice for the sole purpose of controlling you. If you are in an abusive re couples counseling is not recommendedand that your partner needs specialized treatment, not regular anger ma

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Resources and references for anger management

Understanding and controlling anger

Controlling Anger Before it Controls You An overview on the origins of excessive anger, tips on coping, and w help. (American Psychological Association)

What Your Anger May Be Hiding Explores some of the complicated reasons behind excessive anger, including feel powerful, or avoid intimacy. (Psychology Today)

Anger Can Be a Cover Up For Guilt, Shame and Vulnerability Learn about how anger can be an automatic, lea emotions such as guilt and shame and how to begin to get in touch with those feelings. (Get Your Angries Out)
The effects of out-of-control anger

The Cost of Anger Discover the physical and mental costs of anger and why you may be unwittingly setting yo of your anger. (Pegasus NLP Mind-Body Health Site)
Anger management tips and techniques

Anger Management Tips: 10 Ways to Tame Your Temper Quick reference tips for when you want to cool dow Clinic)

Dealing with the Anger Habit New ideas on getting a handle on your anger, including a goal of addressing one (Pegasus NLP Mind-Body Health Site)
Professional help and treatment for anger problems

Anger management Discusses what types of treatment are available for anger management, and when you shou (Mayo Clinic)

Assessment and Treatment of Anger in Combat-Related PTSD An overview of the challenges of anger when d stress disorder and treatment interventions. (National Center for PTSD)
Coping with a loved one with anger problems

So You Love an Angry Person Provides an overview of anger causes, tips on fighting fair, ways to approach a you need more help. (Get Your Angries Out) Authors: Joanna Saisan, M.S.W., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. Last updated: October 2011. All rights reserved. This reprint is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for pr and treatment. Visit WWW.HELPGUIDE.ORG for more information and related articles.
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