Anger Management – August 2009

February 16, 2011 by  
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I’m writing this for all the women with children, husbands, boyfriends, employees, relatives….well, I guess I’m writing this for all of you.  (Men—you are welcome to read also.  It’s just been my experience that this is more of a “woman” thing.  More on that later).  So women, have you ever found yourself saying (or thinking), “Why is it that I have to get angry to get what I want?”  I know I’ve been there.  In fact, I was there this week.  And, all of a sudden it hit me, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  I want to understand why this happens.” 

 So I (calmly) thought about it for a bit.  Then I realized something that made me want to immediately declare, “It’s 5 pm somewhere so how about a glass of wine?”  What I realized was, it isn’t a THEM issue; it is a ME issue.  The question I should ask is to myself:  “why is it that I have to get angry before I will make my needs a priority?”

 As I looked back over my own situations as well as those of my clients, I identified three ways that we put ourselves in this position:

  1. We don’t clearly speak up for what we want.   If your immediate reaction to that statement was “I shouldn’t have to say it, they should know by now” this is the one that applies to you.  Many times we assume that our view of things is everyone’s view of things (granted ours is the right view but everyone else may not see it).  And, truthfully, even if they DO see it, they could be distracted by their own stuff.  When we don’t speak up, we wait and wait and fume until we explode with the clearly stated request.  At this point, our children/husband/boyfriend/employee usually has a deer-in-the-headlights look as they try to figure out what caused this outburst.  Bottom line:  we need to make a request, out loud, clearly stating what we want and, if appropriate, how we want it and by when
  2. We are overly accommodating.  One of the greatest strengths that women bring to the workplace and the family is our ability to empathize.  However, we have a tendency to not only feel the other person’s pain, but also to do more than we should to make sure they HAVE NO pain.  An example:  a client of mine was overwhelmed by the role she played in her family.  She is a professional woman with a fairly stressful job.  Occasionally she would explode under the pressure and her sisters would quickly step in and help.  When I asked why her sister didn’t take on more of the duties on a regular basis, she told me about all the issues that her sisters have in their lives and how she didn’t want them to be over burdened.  Bottom line:  It’s not up to you to determine how much someone else can or cannot handle.  Have a conversation and put it all on the table—your expectations and limits as well as theirs—and come up with a fair, workable arrangement.
  3. We don’t stick to the boundaries that we’ve set.  When I coach managers, I frequently say that one of the most important attributes for them to exhibit to employees is consistency.  The same goes for family, friends, and everyone else.  I have seen so many women (Okay, I admit it. This is my personal stumbling block) communicate what they need and want, come up with a fair plan and then, when things aren’t going smoothly or aren’t getting done, they step in and take over rather than reinforce the boundary they set.   Think about what that communicates:  your kids know it is their responsibility to keep their rooms clean.  However, when they don’t do it, you step in and take care of it because you can’t stand the mess.  You taught them a lesson, didn’t you?  Well, maybe.  But I don’t think the intended lesson was “if I don’t do it mom will”.  Bottom line:  check in with yourself periodically to ensure that the boundaries that you’ve set are still appropriate and that you are consistently sticking to them.

 Action Step:

Think of a situation in which you have the following pattern:  in control—overwhelmed—explode—back in control.  Ask yourself:  “Have I clearly communicated my needs OUT LOUD?  Am I being overly accommodating?  Do I set a boundary and then, little by little, take on more?   And men, some of this may apply to you but I’ve found that men usually speak up and are more likely to stick to their plan.  However, maybe there is a woman in your life that you could share this with.  Let me know what you discover.

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