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Anger Management Institute

Defusing Anger and Conflict

Question: How can I defuse my anger when someone (a "downer") is unfairly blaming or judging me?

Here are some steps to take.
First of all, listen attentively to what is being said. Try to understand and clarify the issue and don’t defend yourself against character judgments, labelling, etc. until you’ve dealt with the issue and you both have cooled down.

Downer: "You didn’t complete that project on time (or finish the room, house-cleaning, etc.)! You are just lazy and irresponsible!"
You: "You think I am irresponsible because I didn’t finish the project. Is that right?"
Downer: "Yes! I could have finished the project myself along with everything else I am doing! You just don’t care!"
You: "You think I don’t care because I didn’t finish the project so you think you should have done it. I want to explain to you what happened. Are you willing to listen to me?"
Downer: "Yes. But, I don’t think you can give me any excuses for your irresponsibility."
You: "I didn’t finish the project because the kids had some unexpected needs (or other responsibilities/clients at work took precedence). I know that you are disappointed but, I now have time to work on the project."
Downer: "Ok. But, I’m still pretty angry about this."
You (now, work towards resolution and confrontation about the character judgments):
" I will do the project and have it done in a few days. But, in the future, I am requesting that you refrain from making character judgments about me when you have a problem with my work."
Downer: "What do you mean by that?"
You: "I don’t like being labeled irresponsible and lazy. When you need to approach me about some issue in the future, please keep to the issue, ie., the behavior that bothers you and your feelings about it. This will help me feel respected and improve our relationship."

~ © copyright 2011 by Lynette J. Hoy, is a marriage and family counselor, speaker, writer and the Chicagoland Chair of Community and Business Women for Christ. The book, What’s Good About Anger? can be ordered online.


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