Our relationships are precious and deserve our full attention to optimize and grow. Relationships involve our mirror neurons which cause us to “mirror” what we see. Usually, when someone is nice to us, we are nice back. When someone speaks to us with angry tones, we become angry ourselves and respond in kind. Without understanding anger for what it really is, this often leads to a nonproductive argument, many untrue things are said that injure both and the relationship. So, how can you prevent this? What do you say when someone is being angry with you? What is the real purpose to speaking out in anger?
Understanding Anger: The Real Purpose
When someone you care about is angry with you, it is a call for help. The reason behind their pain may or may not have something to do with you or your relationship. The key to understanding anger in this case is to answer their “call for help” with something like, “I can see you are upset, what’s this about?” The emotional tone in your voice is everything. With it, you will either be responding to their call for help or responding to their call for more anger…your choice!
When someone’s Conscious and subconscious minds are unaligned, they can’t reach into their subconscious mind’s resources very well. In other words, they aren’t thinking things through very well before talking. This often happens when they are overly tired, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed or simply under a lot of pressure.
We can also elicit an angry unaligned response when we surprise someone with a piece of information or a topic they aren’t prepared for. Our body provides blood to active parts of our brain, allowing other parts of our brain to rest “offline”. It takes at least four seconds for blood flow to shift and longer for circuits between conscious and subconscious mind to realign to a new conversation.
A person can also be hurt and angry with us for perfectly good reasons. Their anger towards us can be aligned, in which case, their tone and choice of words is appropriate to the situation and promotes discussion. It can also be unaligned. Here the tone of their anger comes with “an attitude”. When unaligned anger is expressed, there is a tone in their voice that tends to push our brain into unalignment as well.
How to Communicate with Someone Who is Angry
We are made to love and care for one another - when we are aligned. When our conscious and subconscious minds are unaligned we need help. Let’s review a few rules of thumb when communicating with someone who is angry with us, particularly if this is the one you love:
No matter what, learn to respond to another’s anger as a call for help.
Not only will this help them align, it serves as a good practice for you. As you practice reading into the alignment of others, you also become better able to read yourself particularly when you need to ask for help.
Your relationship with others is a dance.
Learn when and how to address “sensitive” issues. Everyone is sensitive. Learning and honoring a person’s “soft spots” is a part developing trust in the relationship. “Soft spots” are places where intrinsic strengths are being tested. Honoring these areas allows you both to develop greater wisdom around these developing strengths.
When someone is angry make it a rule to first align with each other, recognizing the call for help.
Then talk about it, when you are ready. Unaligned anger does not provide any indication of where or with whom the issue lies. When conscious mind is unaligned, a person’s response to you is not grounded in anything that has to do with your relationship. They may simply be exhausted or frustrated with someone else. Remembering this can avoid early misassumptions. Chronically believing that the problem is always about you or the relationship is not helpful and can hurt everyone involved.
Nice, doesn’t work.
Try on “nicely honest”. “How can I help you?” doesn’t work. Try instead, “How can we help each other”.
When addressing a sensitive issue, timing is everything.
When an issue presents itself ask, “Should we talk about this now or wait for a better time?” Often, now may not be the right time, place nor in the right company to discuss the issue fully and safely. On the other hand, do agree on a time to discuss it. This is an opportunity to grow that is calling to you both. This call will only get louder and more difficult to piece together if you ignore these sometimes difficult discussions. When the time does come ask, “Is this a good time to discuss what was concerning you?”
When, at last, you are both aligned, there are several items up for discussion:
- What caused the anger and what strength within you and our relationship is being called to grow? What can you both do to grow wisdom around this strength?
- What new opportunities within the relationship exists? Who needs affirmation about what? What compromises can be made to provide greater opportunities for us both? Expecting this of any “compromise” helps define healthy relationships.
- How can you take better care of yourselves to help prevent future episodes of unaligned anger? (Diet, exercise, sleep and dancing with each other better)
- Thank each other for the opportunity to resolve this issue, to grow, to care about each other and to be in this relationship.
- Visit this issue again some time later. Can you laugh about it now or is there still a little more opportunity to dig a little deeper and grow?
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