We’ve all been there. Great Aunt Betty invites everyone else in the family to a birthday dinner, but leaves you out. Your boss praises your co-worker for a job that you did. Your spouse forgets your birthday. Any of these situations can upset you. The American Psychological Association notes that anger is normal. In fact, anger can be positive when it motivates you to share your feelings and seek solutions.
Before talking to anyone, stop and think. Anger tends to make people dramatic. If you exaggerate the person’s offense, you give the other person the opportunity to turn you off or show you that you are factually wrong. This won’t help the other person take responsibility or ease your feelings. Take several deep breaths. Stretch your muscles. Repeat words such as “calm down” or “relax.”
Look at the Situation Logically
Before you confront the person, look at the situation logically and from the other person’s point of view. We all forget things or misunderstand. This doesn’t excuse the person’s behavior, but it does give you a starting place for discussion. Talking with someone who upset you shouldn’t be just about getting your feelings off your chest. You can use this opportunity to make a positive change in your relationship.
Set Aside Time to Talk
Ask the person to make time to have a discussion with you. This should be time when he can completely focus on you and your conversation. When you sit down together, acknowledge that this is a difficult conversation to have. Use “I” statements rather than “you” accusations. For example, with an accusation such as “You forgot my birthday” instead say “I felt really sad when no one wished me happy birthday.” This puts the emphasis on your feelings and doesn’t force the other person to become defensive.
Listen to the Other Person
The other person may offer excuses for the behavior. It might be a good excuse such as: “I’m so sorry, I have been so overwhelmed with work that I completely forgot.” Listen carefully to what she has to say. Ask her what the two of you might do to prevent you from feeling hurt in the future. This may be something as simple as adding your birthday to her calendar or reminding her next year. More complicated problems may require more complicated solutions. Work with the person until you have a plan to prevent future upsets.
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Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.