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Learning Assertive Communication Skills Can Reduce Your Anger

by Dr. Ari Novick March 4, 2015

The years leading up to a divorce can be filled with raging arguments or in many cases unnatural quiet as each partner retreats due to the ongoing conflicts. A common communication problem that can ultimately lead to anger management issues is expecting other people to just know what you are thinking or trying to read other people’s minds. Some individuals don’t have the proper skills to express themselves in an effective way so they both shut down and let their anger brew in their head, or lash out in an aggressive or violent way. To avoid divorce, couples can learn the art of how to have a calm, respectful conversation full of give and take. It’s is a life skill that is beneficial in school, with friends and family and throughout your career.

The term is assertive communication, a way of presenting your thoughts and ideas for the most positive outcome. Individuals who aren’t proficient in this area can end up depressed, resentful of those around them, feel taken advantage of, frustrated at what is happening in their life and an increase in hostility and anger. The good news is that assertiveness skills can be learned by attending anger management classes, taking an online program, with 1-1 therapy or by reading books dealing with this topic.

Some basic points include:

1. Speak in a clear and organized manner so there’s little room for misinterpretation. When you want your child to take out the garbage before dark say “Will you please take the garbage out before dinner?” instead of “Would you mind taking out the garbage?”

2. Face the person you are speaking with and speak with a calm, even tone. Your body language tells the other person that you are serious about what you are saying. If you are screaming from another room, there’s a good chance you will be ignored.

3. Keep your statements about you. For example, say “I’d appreciate it if you would take the garbage out before dinner” instead of “You never take the garbage out on time!” Remember your thoughts and emotions are yours; don’t put them on the other person.

4. Avoid speaking to someone else in a judging way. For example, instead of “You are so lazy and never get the trash out on time!” you could say, “The trash is picked up by the city every morning at 4 a.m. If you take out the trash before dinner we will be sure the chore is taken care of prior to pick-up.”

5. Once you have made your point in a respectful and understandable way, take the time to listen to the response. The more you show others that you are interested in their point of view, the more they will be open to yours. You can do this by saying, “Please tell me more about what’s going on?” Or “I’d like to know your take on this subject.”

The better you are at rationally communicating your feelings, the more respect you will receive from others. This change in your social dynamic will make others want to engage you in conversation, hang around you and even seek your guidance. You can rebuild broken or lost relationships and improve your life by learning and implementing new anger management skills.

About the author

Ari Novick, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Anger Management Professional and trainer.

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