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Important Skills You Need To Diffuse and Manage Conflict

Conflicts between friends, family, roommates and in the workplace happen all the time. As a parent, you might find yourself getting into arguments with your child over a messy room, too many sweets, or his or her lack of effort in school. Spouses often find themselves at odds over spending habits, work ethic, or lack of emotional support. At work it might be a co-worker who isn’t doing his or her part of the job or friction with a boss who is expecting way too much out of you. Or, like a recent client experienced, a roommate’s late hours and loud music might send you over the edge. It can be a disappointing, frustrating and anger provoking experience to fight about the same issues over and over again without feeling like anything has been resolved. Many of us walk away from these situations emotionally exhausted and feeling like it’s a losing battle. We internalize the anger until the next time, or spend life feeling an unhappy about the way things are playing out. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Research shows that a key ingredient in successful marriages, relationships and careers is the individual’s ability to effectively negotiate resolutions to the normal obstacles that are bound to arise. This is because knowing how to handle conflict in a positive way helps to diffuse the hostility by getting everyone involved to calm down, relax and therefore better able listen to all sides of the argument. Learning conflict resolution skills can turn your life around.

People who are good at conflict resolution generally have strong anger management skills and utilize them in the following ways:

1. They are able to keep their stress under control while remaining calm and clear headed. This means they don’t yell, badger or get physically violent. A levelheaded response eases the moment and makes it so others will more likely listen to their point of view.

2. They stay on topic. The discussion is strictly about the here and now without bringing up old grievances.

3. They listen to the opposing point of view with the intent to be empathetic and understanding, not to be contentious, accusatory or to have the last word. They let the other person express his or her feelings and don’t interrupt. The more respectful the conversation is, the better the chance for a positive outcome.

4. They express their position honestly and clearly but are ready and willing to make a compromise to settle the argument. They might even infuse the moment with a bit of humor to ease the tension. Differing goals are always going to occur, but they understand that it’s not about winning or losing. The resolution will come when each side makes some accommodations for the other that will build trust and enable both sides to feel better.

The only way to completely stay out of conflicts is to avoid relationships, work, school and basically everyday life. It’s impossible, so the best thing to do is prepare yourself to best deal with them when they arise.

Improve Relationships By Mastering Anger Management

Uncontrolled anger is the cause of a multitude of problems in life. It contributes to destroying marriages, ending employment opportunities, broken friendships and can ultimately lead to violence and run-ins with the law. There are many different levels of this type of anger from disciplining a child too harshly because of your own frustrations to punching in a door or throwing a golf club or tennis racquet when your shot isn’t good enough. One client recently told us the story of how he got into a jealous rage because of what seemed like indifference from his girlfriend and he threw all her clothes out the window. She called the police and he was ultimately charged with Second Degree Tampering and has had a long list of legal repercussions because of his hotheaded behavior that day. He really wished he could take it all back, but was ready to take responsibility for his actions and put the whole thing behind him. Anger management classes were on the top of his agenda to accomplish before the upcoming holiday season and he was actually really looking forward to learning new ways to deal with his stress and frustrations in life. He told me that he knew that it’s time to stop blaming others for his negative responses and start taking control of his life.

If any of these types of behaviors sound familiar, there is hope. On your path to becoming a safer and healthier person, it is essential to learn how to maintain composure when you feel threatened, frustrated, or mad. Anger management classes as mandated by the courts and can also be taken for your own self-improvement purposes at any point in your life. It’s never too late to learn from your experiences and change the way you are responding to life’s challenges.

Anger management classes are worth the time and effort because they teach participants how to gain knowledge of what triggers the hurtful responses, how to reflect on where the anger is coming from, and to learn constructive ways to better respond. In the above example, with some training our client would have removed himself from the infuriating situation and maybe even taken a few days to calm down before responding. He then could use his improved communication skills to calmly discuss his feelings in a non-accusatory way. For example, “I feel like you have been avoiding me lately.” Instead of, “You keep avoiding me!” He would have also learned how to listen clearly to what his girlfriend had been telling him for the weeks leading up to this event so that he wouldn’t have felt like he didn’t know why she was acting this way. Anger management classes also focus on how the consequences of the bad behavior affect loved ones therefore increasing the level of empathy.

Once you have mastered controlling your anger, you will find yourself with increased confidence and improved relationships. These skills help at work as well as socially with friends and family. Participants find that maintaining control allows others to feel safer around you and creates a more honest, well-balanced life.

Why Am I So Angry?

Do you ever think to yourself “Why am I so angry all the time?” As we get older and take on more responsibility, we also encounter more stressful situations either at work, with our family and even financially. Work hours can be taxing, kids aren’t doing well in school, a spouse isn’t carrying enough of the workload and we feel totally overwhelmed. It’s normal to respond with anger every now and then, as it’s a behavioral response to an immediate need. It can be a healthy emotion when it sparks motivation to effectively and respectfully address an issue. For example, when a student gets a bad grade on an exam and is furious because he studied hard, the angry feelings might motivate him to move forward and make an appointment to go over the material with the teacher so it doesn’t happen again. Or in a marriage, the anger might spark a conversation about a more fair division of chores. However, the emotions can become destructive and counterproductive when the response is unsafe to others, unnecessary, chronic and/or over the top.

There are generally a few key factors that can contribute to developing difficulties in coping with anger. They include:

1. Low emotional intelligence

2. Impulsivity

3. Low self-esteem

4. A history of rejection or abandonment

5. A history of living with abusive role models

6. A history of anxiety and/or depression

Some unhealthy and harmful ways of dealing with anger include:

1. Verbal abuse. This includes bullying, yelling, or having an intimidating temper tantrum directed at those around you, co-workers, employers, friends or family.

I recently heard a coach berating his team of 10-year-old boys, telling them they looked like morons out there.

2. Aggressive behavior. This includes road rage, domestic violence, physical assaults, pushing and shoving or destruction of property.

3. Passive-aggressive behavior. This is when someone is simmering on low-boil but doesn’t like to make a direct confrontation. Instead, they purposefully neglectful, unfriendly, or make ongoing negative comments about others behind their back.

4. Obsessive behavior. This is when someone ruminates about their anger and can’t let it go. It comes out in feelings of jealousy, hostility, paranoia, or betrayal. The anger becomes all consuming and might result in stalking or trying to mentally control another person.

5. Payback cycle. Someone feels insulted, demeaned or hurt so they feel the need to retaliate or get even in some way. This is a dangerous, revengeful behavior that we see a lot in the movies. For example, a neighbor backs onto your lawn everyday, killing the grass so the response to their uncaring behavior is to blast loud music late at night and disrupt their sleep.

Everyone might experience one or more of these behaviors at some point in their life. It’s when it begins to happen often and negative consequences result like a run-in with the law, workplace issues, and/or a breakup of close friendships that there is likely an anger disorder that should be addressed. The first thing to do to re-gain control of your life is to seek help through one-to-one therapy, group anger management classes or taking a class online.  Through one of these avenues the individual can learn to understand what is triggering the anger and how to make life changes to improve the quality of his or her life.  

Teach Your Child How To Better Respond To Anger With Improved EQ

Has your teenager been increasingly getting agitated and angry and uncomfortable to be around? Are friendships that he or she had for years falling apart? Is your son or daughter having trouble making new friends? Many parents wonder if it’s normal behavior for this stage of life or time to get additional support. To start, there are a couple of ways to help determine if your child has a problem that needs to be addressed.

1. Does he or she start to get dizzy, nauseous, an increased heart rate, breathless or start to sweat when angry?

2. Are you starting to notice an in increase in depression, anxiety, stress or guilt when he or she is angry?

3. Does the angry behavior seem to be happening more and more frequently?

4. Is the anger causing behavior that is violent or emotionally uncontrollable?

5. Are the feelings causing problems at school or in their relationships with friends and family?

If you answered yes to most of these questions than it’s most likely time to seek professional advice. One aspect of your child’s behavioral issues to think about is their level of social awareness. Many psychologists agree that increasing a person’s level of Emotional Intelligence starting in their teen years can help them to better handle situations that cause them to get angry and ultimately become more successful in every aspect of their life. In fact, an individual’s EQ can be more important than their IQ for general happiness in life.

So what is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Basically it’s your ability to recognize, understand, manage and control your own feelings and responses. Some people just seem to be naturally programmed with people skills, but for others, it can be learned and improved upon through books or classes and by observing appropriate role models. Parents can help their teens to better navigate life by helping them to learn these skills.

People with a high EQ exhibit the following traits:

1. Self-awareness. They are in touch with how they feel. For example, they can easily identify when they are irritated, concerned or grateful for something.

2. Possess empathy. Because they understand their own feelings, it helps them to understand how others feel and why they feel the way do. It helps to build strong relationships and deal with others.

3. Self control. These individuals know how to react appropriately in the right place and at the right time. They understand that if they are disrespectful, violent, loud or too intense it can be harmful to their relationships with others.

4. Mood adaptation. They are able to overcome angry or bad feelings during difficult situations and control them by getting into a better frame of mind.

To help your child learn how to become a more adaptable, understanding and people-smart type of person, you can work at home by role modeling the behavior. Listen to your child with empathy and validate their feelings. Explain the way they should have handled the situation and set limits with consequences. For example, “We understand that you are mad because you can’t find your favorite Xbox game, but it’s not okay to tear your brother’s room apart looking for it.” Explore possible realistic solutions together. What could he have done instead? Why was messing up his brother’s room a poor choice? The more discussion, the more the child becomes of aware of how his behavior impacts others and how to alter it in an effective way. You can teach them these life skills!

Improve The Relationships In Your Life With Private Online Anger Management Classes

We’ve all been mad at our spouse at one point or another. It’s a completely normal emotion and one that is somewhat inevitable when you live with someone and make major decisions together. In some relationships, the anger escalates over time as one or both people feel misunderstood, hurt, jealous or scared. Sometimes these feelings are kept inside for long periods of time because one partner doesn’t want to hurt the other or is afraid of what the response will be. Keeping these feelings bottled up perpetuates the anger and it either comes out at random times in an explosive manner that is totally overboard or sometimes in a passive aggressive way. This is when an individual doesn’t come right out and say what’s on their mind but instead makes undermining sarcastic remarks, or talks behind the other person’s back, or purposely sabotages a situation so the partner will fail in some way.

An attribute that couples with long, happy marriages generally have is good communication, which is something that can be learned through relationship therapy or educational anger management programs at any point throughout a lifetime. These couples possess the knowledge and ability to utilize the following skills:

1. Calm down. They know that the heat of the moment isn’t the best time to react. They let calmer heads prevail by taking a break from the situation to go for a walk, jog, do some laundry or have a bite to eat before responding to an upsetting comment or event.

2. Send clear messages. The individual explains what it is he wants or needs without beating around the bush, yelling, embellishment or hysterics. The individual simply explains himself in a straightforward and non-aggressive manner.

3. Focus on the problem at hand without attacking the character of the spouse. This is accomplished in the way the conversation goes by using “I feel” or “I need” statements instead of “You are” statements. For example, “I feel like you ignore me when we are at parties at your family’s house” instead of “You always ditch me at your parents house!” Utilizing this technique helps your comments to come across as a general complaint and not a direct criticism.

4. Actively listen. Good communicators are also good listeners. They don’t drift off or have a running agenda playing while the other person is speaking. They stay calm and let the other person speak and then repeat back in a respectful tone what they understood. This reassures the other person that their opinion matters and that it’s being processed.

5. Take some blame. An argument is two-sided and one side isn’t always right. Accepting some of the responsibility makes the other person feel like they aren’t the dumping ground and that you are in this together. Say something like “I see your point of view” or “I can see how I contributed to this mess”.

6. Come to a compromise. In this scenario, both sides have to give a little to ultimately gain a resolution. Both sides feel like there isn’t a clear winner or loser. Or, creatively put your minds together to collaborate on a long-term solution so that both individuals ultimately come out with what they want.