You’re feeling angry and that’s okay. It’s a natural emotion that can range from a small spark to a blazing fire. But it can cause serious damage when it’s expressed in a way that doesn’t serve you or those around you. That’s why it’s important to understand the power of assertive anger.
Imagine being able to communicate your feelings and needs with confidence and respect. That’s what assertive anger can do for you. In this guide, we’ll dive into what assertive anger really means, why it matters and how you can practice it. You’ll discover the benefits, including stronger relationships, boosted self-esteem, better conflict resolution, and improved mental and physical health.
We’ll also go over the characteristics of assertive anger, how you can practice it, and what to avoid. By the end, you’ll have the tools to express your anger in a way that serves you and those around you. So let’s begin your journey to healthier, more fulfilling communication.
It’s OK to be Angry
Remember that anger is a natural, important emotion. It helps us identify when our personal boundaries are being violated or when we are in danger. In short, anger provides us with information and motivates us to take action in order to protect ourselves.
What is Assertive Anger?
Assertive anger is a form of expression that allows you to articulate your emotions and needs in a confident and respectful way. It’s different from other types of anger, such as aggressive anger, which involves dominating or threatening others, or passive-aggressive anger, which involves avoiding confrontation and not standing up for yourself.
The key benefit of assertive anger is that it promotes awareness of, and empowers us to address, the root of our anger: The violation of personal boundaries.
When we are assertive, we directly communicate that we do not like something, which gives the other person an opportunity to address their behaviour. This enables us to focus directly on solving the problem: the boundary being crossed.
When we are aggressive, we focus on the person who has violated our boundaries. Rather than focus on communicating the violated boundary, which enables the emotion to be resolved, aggressive anger focuses on the other person and escalates the situation.
In other words, aggressive anger makes you angrier because it ignores the need underlying your anger in the first place.
When we are passive-aggressive, we try to get what we want without directly saying it. This is ineffective and can create tension in our relationships because we are not being honest. Moreover, being passive-aggressive is damaging to our self-esteem and makes us feel weak.
What are the Benefits of Assertive Anger?
Assertive anger expression has many benefits both for you and those around you. These benefits include:
- Improved relationships – By expressing anger in an assertive and respectful manner, you can communicate your boundaries and perspectives effectively, promoting understanding and respect between all parties involved. Assertive anger can lead to healthier and more positive relationships, as well as improved communication skills.
- Increased self-esteem – When you are able to assert your boundaries and communicate your feelings and needs effectively, you will feel more confident and empowered. This can increase your sense of self-esteem and overall well-being.
- Better conflict resolution – Assertive anger management can help you to resolve conflicts more effectively by promoting understanding and respect between all parties involved. By expressing anger in a clear and direct manner, you are better able to resolve conflicts in a positive way.
- Improved mental and physical health – Anger expressed in a healthy and assertive manner can reduce stress and anxiety, leading to improved mental and physical health. By being able to communicate what you are feeling and needing effectively, you can avoid the negative effects of pent-up or repressed anger.
Characteristics of Assertive Anger
There are key characteristics that set assertive anger apart from aggressive anger and passive anger. These characteristics include:
- Clear and direct communication – Assertive communication involves expressing emotions in a clear and direct manner, without attacking or threatening others. It communicates the problem without blame. For example, “I feel disrespected when you do this.” Notice that the focus is on the emotion (I feel disrespected).
- Consideration of others – This specific type of anger involves considering the other person’s feelings and perspectives, while still asserting your own boundaries and perspectives. Communicating assertively promotes mutual understanding and respect.
- Confidence and respect – Assertive means of communicating anger involves confidence and respect for both yourself and others. If you are angry but practice communicating your feelings and needs effectively, without intentionally hurting someone or avoiding confrontation, you demonstrate assertiveness.
- Healthy boundary setting – Articulating anger assertively means setting healthy boundaries and communicating them effectively.
- Non-violent – This form of anger does not involve physical or verbal violence or aggression. It’s a form of expression that promotes understanding and respect between all parties involved, without causing harm.
Examples of assertive anger
Here are a few examples of how assertive anger management can lead to a healthy and effective way of expressing emotions:
- A co-worker consistently arrives late to meetings, causing disruptions and delays. An assertive response might involve expressing your frustration with the behaviour, while also considering your co-worker’s perspective and finding a middle-ground solution that works for both parties.
- A friend borrows an item without asking and damages it. An assertive response would involve expressing your anger and disappointment with the situation, while also considering the friend’s perspective and finding a way to resolve the issue.
- A store clerk speaks to a customer in a condescending manner. An assertive response would involve expressing your anger and disappointment with the behaviour, while also maintaining a level of respect and professionalism in the interaction.
In each example, the anger was communicated assertively by outlining emotions in a clear and direct manner, while also considering the perspectives and boundaries of others. This type of expression promotes mutual understanding and respect, leading to improved relationships and personal well-being.
How to Practice Assertive Anger Management
Identify and understand your emotions
In order to practise this type of anger you need to understand your own emotions and needs. It is impossible to communicate your boundaries if you do not understand what you are feeling. When you feel angry, take time to reflect and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is it that upset you?
- How are you interpreting the situation?
- How did it make you feel?
- What do you need?
This will help you to better understand your own boundaries and how to express them with assertiveness.
Communicate Clearly and Respectfully
When you’re expressing your thoughts and feelings, it’s important to be both clear and empathetic. Instead of pointing fingers or playing the blame game, try focusing on your own experiences and needs.
One great tip to help with this is to use “I” language, which lets you share your own emotions and opinions, without blaming or attacking others. By taking this approach, you can create a safer, more supportive environment where everyone feels heard and understood.
Here’s a comparison of “I” language and blaming language when expressing anger:
- “I feel frustrated when meetings are consistently delayed due to someone being late.” (I language) vs. “You always arrive late to meetings and it’s disrupting our work.” (Blaming language)
- “I am disappointed that my friend borrowed my item without asking and damaged it.” (I language) vs. “You borrowed my item without asking and ruined it.” (Blaming language)
- “I feel disrespected when someone speaks to me in a condescending manner.” (I language) vs. “You always speak to me in a condescending way and it’s disrespectful.” (Blaming language)
Instead of lashing out or placing blame, using “I” language lets you share your own emotions and boundaries in a calm, confident manner. When you approach communication with kindness and clarity, you create a more positive and supportive environment for everyone involved.
You will also find that using “I” language helps to build stronger, healthier relationships that benefit both you and those around you.
Consider the perspective of others
When conveying anger, consider the perspectives and feelings of others. This can help to promote mutual understanding and respect, leading to improved relationships and better conciliation.
Practice active listening
Active listening is an important component of assertive anger. When someone else is conveying anger, take time to listen and understand their perspective. This can help to promote mutual understanding and respect, leading to improved relationships.
Seek help when necessary
If you find it difficult to express your emotions in an assertive manner, seek help from a therapist or counsellor. They can provide guidance and support as you work to develop healthy anger expression skills.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
While assertive anger management is a powerful tool for effective communication and personal growth, it’s important to avoid common mistakes when expressing anger. Here are a few mistakes to avoid:
Avoiding anger altogether
Some individuals avoid expressing anger altogether, which can lead to bottled-up emotions and ineffective communication. Instead, it’s important to learn healthy anger expression methods and how to assert your boundaries.
Passive aggressive anger
Passive aggression involves expressing anger indirectly or through actions rather than words. This type of expression can be hurtful and lead to misunderstandings and relationship problems. Instead, it’s important to convey anger directly and assertively.
Being aggressive involves expressing anger in an attacking or hostile manner. This type of expression can lead to harm and damage in relationships. Instead, it’s important to express anger in an assertive manner that promotes mutual understanding and respect.
Blaming others for your emotions can be hurtful and lead to misunderstandings and relationship problems. Instead, use “I” language when expressing anger, focusing on your own feelings and perspectives.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can effectively share your anger in a healthy and assertive manner, leading to improved relationships and personal well-being.
People often see anger as a negative emotion, but it can actually be an essential tool for growth and communication. By learning how to articulate anger assertively, you can assert your boundaries and communicate your feelings in a healthy and respectful way.
Think of assertive anger as a superpower waiting to be harnessed. By understanding the definition, purpose, benefits, and characteristics of assertive anger, you can turn this emotion into a valuable tool for personal growth and improved relationships.
By avoiding common mistakes such as avoiding anger altogether, defaulting to passive-aggressive anger, being aggressive, or blaming others, you can avoid potential harm to your relationships and cultivate mutual understanding and respect.
The journey to assertive anger may seem daunting, but it’s a path to empowerment that’s worth exploring. So why not take the first step today and start harnessing the power of assertive anger? Your relationships and well-being will thank you!