The popular belief is people need to express their feelings of frustration to effectively process anger. Some therapist believe anger unexpressed is a sign of not being honest with yourself. However, Mark Waldman, in his book Words Can Change Your Brain, says “…brevity keeps the emotional centers of the brain from sabotaging a conversation. Anger is averted before it begins, and, besides anger rarely works. Expressing anger is destructive, but this does not mean that we should completely repress negative feelings…” Negativity is very powerful and hurtful comments can easily slip out.
Waldman suggests “reframing each negative feeling and thought by shaping it into a positive, compassionate and solution-based direction. In each conversation express frequent comments of appreciation. The more the better, however, they need to be heartfelt and genuine. Speak of positive events and steer clear of complaining about the world. The brain simply can’t focus on both negative and positive feelings at the same time.” If we desire to have our work relationships and lives flourish we must maintain the highest ‘positivity ratio’ during communication and ditch the negativity.
Few words of anger have ever ended with a positive outcome. Even if we tell ourselves we feel better afterward, the fallout is negative. Angry words spoken, can’t be taken back. The reframing technique during a heated topic works. It takes practice but speaking slowly with sincerity and truth reviewing the facts helps defuse or limit escalation and anger. When I see a co-worker trying hard to accomplish a goal, I’m more apt to try harder myself. I’m inclined to think the same applies in communication.