As much as we'd like to avoid it, people will make us angry. And while that anger is a normal feeling, how you express it can determine if you resolve the problem or make it worse.
Stef Ziev is a life coach who aims to guide people to their life's purpose. Within that journey, she teaches them how to communicate effectively, even in the face of conflict.
"I think the biggest thing in terms of expression of any feeling in a healthy way is to give it voice, give it a name and acknowledge it," says Ziev.
Ziev is also the author of "The Choice Is Yours: A Simple Approach to Live and Lead with More Joy, Ease, and Purpose."
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There are some things that Ziev recommends you never say — especially to co-workers or even your boss — when you find yourself in a tough situation that upsets you.
"You make me feel..."
"Our default is 'you make me feel X, Y and Z,'" Ziev says. "That's not really a true statement. We're all coming to any interaction with our own experience, history and wounds."
Instead, Ziev encourages you to name the behavior that triggered you and describe the experience you had after it occurred.
Try saying, "When you do this behavior, then my experience is X, Y and Z," she says.
"The intent is to never make it personal," Ziev says, because that can heighten situations in a way that you didn't intend.
For example, avoid saying: "You make me upset when you don't take my advice into consideration during meetings."
Opt for a better approach like: "When you don't consider the advice I suggest in meetings, it's difficult for me and I feel undervalued."
Take time to process emotions before you respond
It can be hard to be considerate of another person's feelings when you're upset yourself. "Really be mindful about what's present for you," Ziev says. "Ask yourself who's sitting at the head of my table right now."
If you're not the version of yourself that would address the problem in a level-headed way, the first step that she recommends is excusing yourself from the conversation until you feel more calm.
To release your emotions before verbally addressing the issue with the person you're upset at, Ziev suggestions writing down all of your feelings.
"It can just be a scribble, or an expletive. The intent there is to just get everything out," she says.
When you're done writing, "rip it up, thank it [and] throw it away," Ziev adds. Then, take some time to think about what you'd need for the issue to be resolved.
Use this 6-step approach to express anger in a healthy way
Once you're in a better space emotionally and have set a time to talk, Ziev encourages you to approach your conversation about the problem by using these six steps.
- Set the intention for the conversation: Think about what you're hoping to gain from the discussion and what a solution looks like for you.
- Bring awareness: Share your experience about how the interaction affected you, without making it personal.
- Take responsibility for the role you've played: Own up to how you may have contributed to the problem.
- Make requests: Decide what you'd need to move forward and ask for it. Be as specific as possible.
- Create partnership: Ask them what they'd need from you to meet your request, and see if they're willing to fulfill it.
- Positive feedback: End on a good note and acknowledge the care that's required to show up to a conversation about conflict with an open mind.
"I think communication is our biggest issue," says Ziev. "If everyone would invite partnership [in], I really think the world would change. Our individual worlds would change, and the world at large would change."
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