Why has the court mandated that I take an anger management class? It was a one-time incident that will never be repeated and this is just overkill. We hear various versions of this same question week after week from frustrated clients who don’t have another moment in the day to participate in mandatory classes. It’s stories like a television set was thrown across a room to try to get a spouse’s attention or a cell phone at boyfriend in the heat of an argument and someone called the police. While the one time event plea might be true for some, for many of our clients this is just the one time that the law has finally been called in. The defendant has actually spent years displaying this behavior but just doesn’t see the problem in himself. The reality is that anger affects those around you quite deeply and can make co-workers, family and friends feel stressed, intimidated, scared and downright upset.
There is actually a wealth of research that shows that while an individual may have developed certain unproductive behavior patterns, with dedication and practice, a person can learn to change the way they respond. That being said, the reason to take an anger management class is to build new skills to improve relationships, redirect the path your life has taken and to become a more emotionally balanced individual. Taking court mandated classes online is the solution for those clients that really can’t miss work, have health issues that keep them at home, or don’t have transportation to get to the weekly classes.
The truth is that living an angry life is a choice that can be reevaluated and changed. In classes, students learn to identify what situations trigger the feelings, how to calm down before responding, and most importantly how to communicate effectively to resolve the conflicts that cause the angry reaction. Sound good? It is. In order to have a healthier discussion with a spouse, child, co-worker or friend that is causing you grief, people who have learned how to control their anger and negative impulses, understand the following concepts to have a more constructive discussion:
1. The other person isn’t always wrong. It’s not always a debate where one person is right and the other isn’t. Look at the other individual as an equal to come to terms with.
2. Don’t expect mind readers. You can’t expect that the person you are upset with can interpret your feelings or has the ability to read between the lines. It’s up to you to respectfully and openly communicate what you think in a calm tone.
3. Stay focused on the topic at hand. Don’t reach back to old grievances but stay specifically on the current issue. Going off on tangents just contributes to an ineffective discussion.
4. Listen to the opposing view. Don’t interrupt or tune out while you are mentally putting together your next response. Put yourself in their shoes and try to empathetically understand where they are coming from.
5. Forgive. Holding grudges won’t get you anywhere. It does not show weakness to forgive, but instead an openness to move forward. No one says that you have to forget the grievance, but put it behind you and move ahead.