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Conflict Resolution Series: 3 Alternatives to Anger During Conflict

Conflict is the result of one of two things - anger or fear. Anger and fear generate some whoppers for feelings. Angry and scared people tend to be irrational, reactionary, and go into the fight or flight response quickly. If anger is your go-to, then being in conflict can be tricky.

Being able to avoid or manage anger is an important alternative when conflict arises. Finding more appropriate ways to express displeasure will help things stay calm and resolution to come quicker. If you find yourself angry as a go-to emotion in conflict, consider these alternatives to being mad.

Ask for time to process

Sometimes quelling anger is nearly impossible in the moment. If you know that your automatic response to conflict is generally anger, ask for time to process and come back when you are more in control. You can rehearse phrases to use when you aren’t angry, so you are ready when the heat of the moment comes. Statements like “This is really affecting me, and I need some time to work through how I feel.” Or, “I need to take some time to calm down before I can talk this out” are very effective ways to ask for space and time to regain composure before hashing things out.

Set good boundaries

Sometimes anger comes when people are pushing buttons and not respecting social boundaries. You can cut off someone who is in your space - literally and metaphorically - by stating what you will and won’t stand for and sticking to it. Having clear and consistent boundaries helps others know where the line is in the sand and helps you keep your cool holding your position.

Have a plan to avoid the anger

If you know anger is a go-to, it is good to have a plan to circumvent it. Start by counting to 10 in your head or tapping your finger to displace the energy. If you know the anger is coming, being able to talk yourself down is ideal. Using a tool like active listening is a great way to stop anger because you can ask clarifying questions.

If you want to avoid anger, use these simple tips:

  • Avoid sarcasm

  • Avoid rolling your eyes

  • Try to have empathy

  • Seek to understand

  • Take deep breaths

  • Breathe through your nose

  • Pay attention to your adrenaline rising

The more self-aware you are, the easier it is to manage anger. Recognize the tendency towards anger and do what you can to avoid it or manage it. Being in control is an advantage in conflict. Do yourself the favor to find alternatives to anger, and you’ll have more success when you are at odds with others.

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