The following article is written by Ari Novick, a leading facilitator of Anger Management classes and training:
“Our client, Aaron, told us that in his family they typically yell at one another to get the point across. Aaron recently got into a relationship with a woman who told him that his anger “scares” her when he gets upset. Aaron’s reply was that he was not upset, this was “just the way I am used to expressing myself when I get upset, this is normal for me”. The reality is that what might be “normal” for you and your family of origin may not be the “norm” in terms of communicating effectively with others. Aaron’s style of communication is aggressive, but he didn’t realize the impact it had on his girlfriend. Aaron had to learn about his style of communication as well as other styles of communication to understand the kind of changes he needed to make. By learning to become more assertive, Aaron felt better, his needs got met more of the time, and his girlfriend no longer feared him when he did get upset.
The way we communicate or the style we use to communicate is often learned from much earlier experiences in our lives when our language skills were newly formed. Think about your family’s style of communication for a moment. Is your style similar to any of theirs? Most of us tend to communicate in a way that was adaptive in the environment we grew up, but problematic in our lives today. For many of us, our style of communication can leave us with unmet needs, unexpressed emotion, and damaging effects on those around us. It is important to understand that there are many different communication styles, yet only one that tends to yield the results we are seeking. Learning to express your primary feelings and needs, clearly, calmly, with good eye contact is what assertive communication is all about.
Good communication skills are an essential ingredient to anger management because poor communication causes untold emotional hurt, misunderstandings and conflict. Words are powerful, but the message we convey to others is even more powerful and often determines how people respond to us – and how we feel toward them.
Because communication is a two-way process, people with good communication skills are good at “receiving” messages from others as well as delivering them. If you look at people in your life and we also look at your own behavior, you may discover certain patterns of communication. Some patterns are negative and harmful while others are positive and productive.
Frequently persons who have anger problems use harmful ways of communicating to others – harmful in the sense that it disrupts relationships and usually does not accomplish the goals that you intended.
Assertive communication, on the other hand, is a much more effective way to get what you want and what you need without the negative consequences. In short, the development of assertive communication skills will work for you by making you a more effective and less stressed person.
What is assertive communication? It is a way to communicate so that you convey your rights in a good way. Assertive communication helps people clearly explain their wants, needs, and feelings to other people. It is a way of getting things that you want without violating or offending others’ rights or having to walk away without getting what you want.
Assertive people tell others what they want and need clearly; they have a knack of saying the correct thing at the correct time.