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Having a civil discussion with someone when you are angry and feel like yelling and screaming can seem extremely difficult, but it is possible. In fact, people who tend to just lose it every time they are frustrated find that living life like this isn’t very pleasant in the long term. Others become afraid and avoid you, relationships disintegrate, employers look down upon it and you might even get involved with the law. The key is to learn how to filter what you really want to say or do by utilizing anger management skills to stay controlled.

It is natural that when you are in any type of close relationship with someone like a spouse, co-worker, friend or family member, you won’t always agree on everything. In fact, an argument can actually be a good thing because it shows that you both want the best out of the situation. If you never disagree, one person is most likely giving in and slowly building resentment. However, when that argument arises, instead of flying off the handle, think about treating the other person in the same way that you would like to be treated. Would you like someone screaming that you “always” do something that is hurtful? How would you feel if the other person didn’t even try to recognize the importance of the matter at hand and interrupted or belittled your feelings?

The next time that a difficult conversation arises, instead of responding with frustration and anger, focus on the issue at hand (not something that you’ve been reminded of from years ago) and do your best to consider where the other person is coming from. Respond respectfully by speaking honestly without criticizing, judging or attacking the other person. It helps to count to 10, take deep breaths and then listen closely to why the other person is upset. Resist making assumptions about their perspective. Instead, listen closely and repeat back what you have heard them say so that they can confirm that you understood correctly. Give the other person time to speak and definitely don’t interrupt with your own point of view. Before you start in with your side of the story, ask them if they have said everything on their mind.

When you are ready to explain your point of view, try your best to speak calmly and politely. Take ownership of your feelings using “I” statements rather than “you need to…” so the other person doesn’t feel like they are being attacked. Once you have stated your perspective, work with the other person to come up with a solution that you can solve together. Look at the pros and cons of each solution and brainstorm to find one that you can compromise on and both live with. And, it’s not over yet. In order to fully resolve the conflict, make sure to check in with the other person to see if the tactic you came up with is working for him/her over time.

Learning how to regulate your emotions to better handle stress and control your angry impulses will help you to recognize and change your harmful arguments with others. This in turn will create stronger, healthier and more successful relationships in every part of your life.

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