Instructions for Dashboard
The dashboard itself is visible only to viewers with Consultant privileges.
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH THE DASHBOARD
- Register users and monitor at a glance who has taken the inventory and who has not.
- Send registration info to users with any instructions you wish to give them, with a single click.
- Send notes to users, as individuals or a whole list, with a single click.
- Do Score Review Management, that is, manage the timing of when your users see their scores. Set configs so users do not see their report at time of taking the inventory; rather score reports are sent directly to you.
the Score Report directly to any user at a time of your choosing with a single click, without having to open it or type an email address.
- Download a user’s Score Report with one click, so you can view, print, email it, or save it as a PDF file for easy access later.
View a Log
of all events for each user, in case you forget whether or not you sent registration, etc.
- Export scores of all users into an Excel spreadsheet, where you can easily do aggregation and analysis.
- Keep track of number of users you have paid for and order new User Accounts.
TO ACCESS THE CONSULTANT DASHBOARD
Any user can see the Help page you are now reading. But to see and use the Dashboard, you must be logged in with a Consultant account configured for Dashboard use. (To buy a Dashboard account, go here ($30.45 setup, plus $6.95 per user).
After you buy the Dashboard, we need to configure your account accordingly, which may take up to a business day. We will email you when it is ready for use). To login, go to the login on the left side of the front page www.RiverhouseEpress.com. Use the same login and password you used when you purchased the Dashboard.
After you log in, a Dashboard menu will appear on the left. (This is visible only after you have purchased the Consultant Dashboard and we have configured your account accordingly.) Scroll down the page if you cannot see it.
TO SET UP USERS
You can begin registering users on the Dashboard after you have received a note from Riverhouse saying the Dashboard has been configured for you.
Make sure you have new user accounts available. To see how many user accounts are available to you, check the counter on the top right of the Dashboard. To buy more, click on the button "Add User Accounts", found on the left menu. This brings up a screen showing how many unused User Accounts are still available and a button to easily order additional accounts.
To register users. Click on “Create User” to bring up a registration form. You must enter all of the following:
- Name. Whatever you enter here will appear at the top of that user’s Score Report. Eg: if you enter “John Doe”, at top of the Score Report it will say “Report for John Doe”. Spaces between words are okay.
- Password, entered twice.
Click on “Register” at the bottom to save what you have entered for a user.
To Create Settings for your Users. After creating users, go to the list of them in the Dashboard by clicking "Go to Dashboard" in the Dashboard menu. The screenshot below shows the functions of the Dashboard related to users. Below the screenshot is instructions for the key settings.
Regarding "Show Report to Users? Occasionally, trainers want to hand the Score Report to their users in a workshop or private meeting rather than have users see the Score Report at time of taking the inventory. To do this, this setting should be set to No. (If in doubt, we recommend setting this on Yes and letting users see their score report immediately after taking the inventory.) You can change the whole list at once by using the global change at the top. Or you can change users one at a time. You must click on Confirm after changing the setting.
Explaination of the YES/NO settings: If under Show Report you click on Yes, your users will see a Score Report and have access to the tutorial on our site as soon as they take the inventory. If you click on No, they will instead see the screen below after they finish taking the inventory:
Screen as viewed by users when Dashboard is set to Show Report to User/NO. This setting sends a score report directly to the consultant and blocks user from seeing scores.
IMPORTANT: You must click Confirm after changing the Yes/No setting. This applies to both individual or global changes. If you do not, the new setting shows on the screen but is not in fact recorded on the site. A small notice will show up when you click on Confirm to let you know you have been successful in changing the setting. After you have chosen and confirmed the setting you want for each user, the users whom have you have registered are now ready to access the inventory.
To change the order of the names in the list. By default, the list is ordered in the sequence names are added. But you can easily change that. Go to the top of the Name column in the dashboard. There you can choose whether you want names to be displayed alphabetically according to surnames or by date of registration. Be sure to click Confirm after you have chosen the setting you want.
DIRECT USERS TO THE CONFLICT STYLE INVENTORY
Edit the Registration Note. The Dashboard sends a notice of registration when you click on the button "Send Registration Note". Before using this, you must edit the text of the registration note to your requirements. In the Consultant menu to the left of the Dashboard is a button "Edit Registration Note". When you click on it, you will find an easy-to-edit page already pre-filled with suggested text. Edit this as you wish. IMPORTANT: You must only put one space between sentences. If you put two or more spaces, the site inserts the character A when you save the page, and the registration note that goes out will have strange A's scattered across the text.
Save the Registration Note. Be sure to click the button at the bottom of the page when you are finished, "Save Registration Note Edits". If you do not Save, the text will revert back to the default text.
Sending different notes to two or more different groups of people. You can easily change the note for different groups of people:
- Edit the note as desired for the first group (and save it)
- Register one group and click on each person's button to send the note.
- Re-edit the note as desired for the second group (and save it).
- Register the second group and click on each person's button to send the note.
Tip: Text you Save in the Registration Note will stay there until you change it. If you use several different notes repeatedly, you may want to keep the text of these notes in a file on your computer so you don't need to re-enter the text everytime you change notes. You can do it as follows: Click on the "show/hide" toggle on the web editor menu. This brings up the underlying html code. Use Control A to do a global select of the whole page of html code, then use Control C to copy it. Open a file in Notepad and paste the selection into a file using Control V, and save. You can then reverse the procedure in the future when you want to use that text. Ie: copy the text from the Notepad file, click on the show/hide toggle to turn on html mode on the web editor, paste the html into the page, and save the page.
Test to make sure your edits come through on the email sent. Set up a user account with an email address you have access to. You have to use a different email than the one you used in registering your Consultant account, as the site will not allow you to use the same email twice. After you've edited the Registration Note to your satisfaction, find this user account in the Dashboard and click on Send Registration Note to this user. Then go to your email account and take a look at what comes through to make sure it looks ok.
A few Dashboard Users have difficulty with the formatting of the Registration Note. If you want, Riverhouse staff will clean up errors in formatting upon request, but allow two business days for this. If you have access to someone familiar with HTML, they can quickly fix formatting issues in a few minutes as well.
If you want to add any special instructions to your users, this email is an easy way to communicate them. For example, you might add: "When you have completed the inventory, please print out a copy to bring to class. Please also take fifteen minutes to work through the first three items in the Tutorial (see menu at top of page when you are in the inventory) before class."
When you are satisfied with the text of your Registration Note, all you need to do to send it to a user is click on the button "Send Registration Note". You can click for each user to send the note. If you are sending to a lot of users, use the multi-user function. Click on the box to left of each name and then at the top of the Dashboard use the multi-user Send Registration function.
Log of Registration Notes. In the left menu of the Dashboard click on Log of Registration Notes to see a list of those users to whom you sent registration notes and when
ALLOW TIME FOR TESTING
It is important to test the setup at least a day and preferably more before you send a whole group through. Give your login instructions to at least one “guinea pig” not familiar with them and ask this person to take the inventory. (This is a gratis user, so far as we are concerned; you need not count this person in the number you are paying for. If necessary, send us a note about this and we'll add the number of users you request to your Dashboard.) Chances are good you will discover something that to you seemed clear but was not to your user. We are eager to help but cannot guarantee a response to questions in less than a full working day.
TO SEND ADDITIONAL COMMUNICATION TO USERS
You can easily send a notice to all your dashboard users or those you select by using the Send Note function. In the left menu, click on the Send Note menu item. Enter your text there and Save it. Then go to the Dashboard and click on the box beside those users you want to receive the note. If you want all to receive it, click on the box in the top row and it will select all. Then use the Multi-User button in the top of the Dashboard and select Send Note in the drop-down menu.
TO MONITOR USERS AND SEE WHO HAS TAKEN THE INVENTORY.
You can at any time see who has taken the inventory and who has not by going to the Consultant Dashboard. You must be logged in, of course, to be able to view your users on the Dashboard.
In the "Report Status" column, you can see at a glance who has take the inventory and on what date.
VIEW A RECORD OF ALL EVENTS FOR EACH USER
In the Name column, there is a small "Log" button for each user. Click it to access a record of all events for that user. Events recorded include: Sending the user a Registration Note, Taking the inventory, Downloading the Score Report to the consultant, Sending a link to the Score Report from the dashboard to the user.
ARCHIVE, DELETE, OR RESTORE USERS
Users who you Archive can be recalled again later by Restoring them. Users you Delete are permanently removed.
To Archive or Delete a few names, simply click in the box on the left of each name, then go to the top of the screen and click on Delete or Archive, and when prompted, Confirm. To Delete or Archive many names, use the global select (on the top row of the column with checkboxes) to select all the names on the page with one click. Then go to the One Click operations menu in the top of the Dashboard. Select Delete or Archive and confirm.
When you Delete a name, it goes into the Archive, and thus it remains in your database until you delete it from the Archive. This means that you will not be able to create a new record for that person's email until you go into the Archive and delete it there.
To Delete names in the Archive, simply click on the button "View/Restore Archived Names" on the upper right of the Dashboard. Select the names you want to delete and click delete.
To Restore names you previously Archived, click on the Archive button. This brings up all previously archived names. Check the boxes in front of names you want to Restore (you can use the global selection if you want to Restore all), click on the One Click operations menu, select Restore, and Confirm.
BUY MORE USER ACCOUNTS
You can easily add more user accounts at any time by clicking on the button at the top right of the Dashboard, "Add User Accounts". This brings up a screen showing how many user accounts remain unused, and a button to buy more. Enter the number you want to buy (you must buy ten or more at a time) and click on "Send request". Your request will be automatically emailed to Riverhouse staff.
NOTE: Riverhouse staff have to approve your request before the additional accounts are available for you to register new users. Please allow 1-2 business days for this.
If you have an established account with Riverhouse or are a well-known institution, you can arrange to order additional User Accounts on credit at no extra charge, and Riverhouse will bill you on a regular basis. However, new consultant accountholders will need to pay for User Accounts before they can be loaded into the Dashboard. Order additional User Accounts now.
FOR HELP IN DESIGNING YOUR TRAINING WORKSHOP
Don’t miss our free Trainers Guide. Download it now from the Riverhouse online shopping page.
GIVE US FEEDBACK
Or fill out a 60 second feedback survey of the Conflict Style inventory here.
Last update: January, 2015.
Principles of Wise Response to Conflict
Principles of Wise Response to Conflict
Be a Transformative Presence with These Principles
With thought and practice, anyone can significantly expand their ability to deal well with conflict. In other sections of this tutorial are practical steps to assist this.
But we're not talking here about simple tasks like changing oil in a car or repairing a faucet, where basic skills and clear instructions are often enough. Effective response to conflict is about us, complex beings with emotions and vulnerabilities, managing ourselves in the presence of other human beings, who are also complex, emotional, and vulnerable, and whose response cannot be predicted. No 1-2-3 steps are adequate here. Skills and strategies truly help in conflict, but they are not enough. We have to apply them from an inner place that seeks wisdom.
A number of principles lie beneath the strategies and learning suggestions in this inventory. We state them here, so you can evaluate them and, if you find them compelling, incorporate them into your reflection and practice. By putting them at the core of efforts to improve your handling of conflict, you place yourself on a path of growth at every level of your being. These principles have the capacity to expand those who apply them, not only in skills and strategies but also in heart and soul.
1. Acceptance of diversity and conflict
Differences are part of being human, even in settings where people appear similar. We function better in conflict if we accept that it is a normal part of life. Ironically, when we embrace the reality of differences, they become easier to manage.
In this world of diverse others, we must be capable of offering diverse responses. Sometimes, smiling and being flexible is a wise response. Other times, a firm, no-compromise stance is wise (ask a parent about that). Then there are times when avoiding conflict entirely by withdrawing is the only sensible response.
When we accept that diversity is central to life, we can apply other principles, such as....
We make better choices when we know our habits and tendencies in conflict. Most people have a clear preference for one or two styles of responding. This style feels natural since we learn patterns of how to deal with conflict as children and young adults. In those formative years, each of us was shaped by a situation unique to us, created by our own needs and abilities, the conflict styles of people close to us, and the influence of school, religion, and society. As adults, many of us still prefer the style that we learned to rely on in those early years. Since all the styles are valuable in certain times and places, that basic preferred style is an ongoing asset to us to call upon when needed.
But if we use one style automatically, without awareness that we are using it or that other responses are also available, we set ourselves up for difficulty. Becoming aware of these instinctive responses to conflict is probably the most important step we can take to improve our ability to respond wisely when things are difficult. Then we can choose our responses rather than react blindly. The Style Matters inventory helps to become more self-aware by giving a picture of our responses to conflict.
Conflict management starts with self-management. We manage ourselves better:
- When we know our strengths and build on them;
- When we are aware of the flip side of our strengths, in particular the dangers of using them too much.
We benefit by paying careful attention to the strengths associated with our highest scoring styles and to the costs of over-using those styles. By becoming more conscious of these, we expand our strengths and learn to avoid over-use of those styles.
Diversity and change seem to be hard-wired into reality.Thus life is easier and we serve others better when we can adapt. Being skilled in all five styles of conflict enables us to cope with a wide variety of situations. Each style is necessary for living well. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Each is the right choice in some situations and wrong in others.
A few people are naturally flexible in conflict and have a “flat score” in this inventory, meaning their numbers all fall within three points of each other. This suggests that such people are comfortable with all five styles.
However, most people have a preference for one or two styles, reflected in a score of two or more points higher for one style than other styles. The stronger your preference for a particular style, the more likely you are to experience the costs of over-use associated with that style. Look for opportunities to use the styles in which you scored lowest. By expanding your abilities to do this, you strengthen your management of self. You will find that with practice you can respond in the ways you choose rather than from pure emotional reaction.
Every style requires a different set of skills to use well. Most people are already quite skilled at one or two styles and clumsy with some of the other styles. We will identify skills that assist in using each style well, making it easier for you to strengthen those skills. (Skill section to be added)
5. Conscious choice
We respond more effectively to conflict when we use not only our emotions but also our intelligence, when we choose rather than react. When emotions rise, we tend to go on autopilot and use responses we learned long ago. Self-awareness helps us switch out of autopilot mode into conscious choice mode. By learning the five styles of response available in any conflict, we position ourselves to make conscious choices. Does that mean our choices are guaranteed to work? Of course not, no more than being a skilled driver guarantees that you will never have a car accident. But when we have a range of responses that we are good at instead of only one, we can respond in ways that give us better chances of getting out of a tight spot with the least damage. Over time, our lives improve as the consequences of improved response accumulate.
Perhaps more important, as we begin to make choices consciously rather than reacting automatically, we expand and grow as human beings. Conscious choice move us beyond the blame game, and enables us, for the first time, to take responsibility for our actions and our future.
But doesn't conscious choice mean endless calculation in which we must constantly ponder all options? No, as we learn and practice new responses, they gradually become automatic. A good car driver brakes instantly and instinctively when danger appears, with just the intensity of foot pressure on the brake required by the circumstances. Similarly, as we get skilled in a variety of responses, we respond with less effort. Flexibility and responding to the unique requirements of each situation become second nature. [For a visual diagram of the learning process that gives a clear picture of the steps of growth, click here.... Additional page to be added to the Stages of Skill Development.]
6. Welcoming both light and shadow
Our desire for predictability and control pushes us to cling to narrow visions of who we ought to be (wonderful) and the way things ought to be (perfect and permanent). When reality, including other people and ourselves, does not fit the rigid boxes of our fantasies, we struggle. We become unhappy and less resourceful in dealing with problems.
This inventory points towards a different view of things, the awareness that "strengths" and "weaknesses", "good" and "bad" are often closely related. Embedded within "weakness" lie certain kinds of strength; within "failure" lie resources for transformation. Similarly, many personal qualities often considered to be negative are actually virtues, albeit with the volume too high or played at the wrong time. For example, "pushy", dialed back to a lower volume, may be "assertive". "Passive" dialed up to higher energy may be flexibility or equanimity. Thus, rather than fight or resist things in ourselves or others that create difficulty, often we arrive at a better place if we aim instead to discover unexpected gifts and unrecognized resources in things that frustrate.
7. Acceptance of imperfection
No matter how aware or skillful we are, we still get hurt and we fail. We're humans, not gods. The goal is to learn from mistakes, make right what we can, forgive when we are able, and get on with things. We live more gracefully when our focus is on living fully rather than perfectly.
This attitude makes us more relaxed and easier to be around for others. It also makes it easier to ourselves recognize when we go "over the top", to smile at our serious selves, and prepare to do better the next time. A paradox of living: Accepting that we are imperfect makes it easier to become who we want to be and more likely that we rise to our fullest being.
Create a MySupport Page
Create a MySupport Page
A Page of Tips About You for People You Live or Work With
In just a few minutes you can create a list of support strategies tailored to your personal conflict style preferences. These are things that other people around you could do that would help you be at your best when disagreements arise.
Why might you want to create such a page? Creating a MySupport page is an exercise in self-knowledge about what helps you function well. Just as important, it is taking healthy responsibility for self, because it positions you to take constructive steps towards creating the environment that you need to function well.
For example, if you favor the Avoiding style and know that you function better if you've first had a chance to quietly reflect on things before negotiating with someone, you will be able to say, in a positive and constructive way, "I will be a better partner in this conversation if I have some time to think about the issues before we plunge into things. Could we plan to meet tomorrow afternoon so I have time to do that?"
People who care for you will be pleased to have specific suggestions about what to do - or not to do - that will be helpful for you. Typically people don't have a clear sense of what is helpful to others and they welcome ideas, especially those that you yourself have created. Sharing a list of styles-based suggestions with others is an excellent, non-threatening way to begin a conversation about managing differences more effectively. They may be motivated to also take the inventory and then you can make it a two-way exchange.
Below is a list of suggestions for each style that are useful to many people who favor that style. Select, copy, and paste this entire page into an email or a Word document. (To select the whole page, type Control A. To then copy it, type Control C. Go to your email or Word document, click on the empty page there, and type Control V.)
There you can edit it. Start with the style in which you scored the highest (drawing from either Calm or Storm). First delete suggestions for that style that you don't like. Then edit the remaining suggestions: change words or phases to make each suggestion right for you. Continue on to the style in which you scored the next highest and repeat. Feel free to edit and draw suggestions from any style, but you will probably find that most of the ideas that "work" for you come from the styles in which you scored the highest.
Then delete everything from the page you don't want to keep, including, probably, these instructions. You may want to finish by re-ordering the ideas with the most important ones at the top.
Note: You will not be submitting anything to our website as you do this. You simply take information from the website and then edit it on your own computer and print out to make this page.
MySupport in Times of Conflict
Suggestions for Others that Help Me Function at My Best
(Fill in the above list by cutting and pasting from the suggestions below. You can easily find suggestions likely to fit you by starting with the conflict style in which you had the highest score.)
Things that people who favor the Directing Style often want from others:
-Move towards me, not away from me.
-Talk with me, don't go silent.
-If there's a problem, I want to sort it out as soon as possible. Delaying a discussion for no good reason upsets me!
-If you need space to cool down or think about things, I can handle this if you indicate this to me, and at the same time suggest specifically when you will be ready to talk about things (e.g., in an hour, or tomorrow at nine o'clock, etc).
-I am often very task-focused but I care more about relationships than I sometimes let on.
-If you remind me to give more attention to the relationship, I'm likely to appreciate the request and try to honor it.
-I am more likely to notice and respond positively to your needs if you approach me when I'm not in the middle of a task.
-Don't just tell me you have a problem; let me know you want to work with me to solve it.
-If you can, tell me what you want rather than dwelling on what you don't want.
-I appreciate being given information: about your intentions, options for resolution, data, etc. I respond positively to a sense that you're genuinely trying to help me get all the information needed to see what is going on.
Things that people who favor the Avoiding Style often want from others:
-Giving me time and space to think things through almost always helps me to feel you're trying to be reasonable.
-You will probably get more of what you want if you use a "two-step approach" with me. Step One: Tell me what you want to talk about and suggest a time to talk; Step Two: Only then, at the agreed time, have the discussion. Or: Step One: make a request and ask me to think about it. Step Two: Come back later to get my response.
-Speed and pressure frustrate me.
-Move slowly, one step-at-a-time.
-It's easier for me to be positive if you stay low-key; as in keeping the volume and pressure down.
-I am more likely to say yes to something if I have information about it and time to examine the info. The more data about precedents, possibilities, rules and regulations, cost, benefits, etc., I have, the better.
Things that people who favor the Cooperating Style often find useful as suggestions to others:
-I don't want either of us to lose; I want both of us to win. I'm at my best when we work together to try to accomplish that.
-I'm ready to put time and effort into dialogue on things I care about and I appreciate it when others are ready to do so as well.
-It's important to me to talk things through and know all sides have been heard, not just have a shouting match.
-I don't expect quick resolution of difficult matters. I'm prepared to go through a phase of intense discussion or disagreement. What matters to me most is the tone of things. I appreciate people who can strongly disagree in ways that are respectful.
-I'm uncomfortable when people go along with me "just to be nice". I'd rather know exactly what you're thinking, in a respectful way of course.
-I really appreciate a good listener.
-You can be direct and candid about what you want with me, so long as you are respectful.
-Taking responsibility for mistakes impresses me. I can overlook a lot so long as you circle back and make it right, but the sooner you do this, the less damage there will be.
-I hear criticism more easily if you present it as information about things you want or need rather than making demands.
-I like having a plan for a difficult conversation. For example, we could agree at the beginning of a conversation that: 1) We'll start by giving each of us a chance to say what we're unhappy about. 2) Then we'll make a list of what our main differences are. 3) Then we'll make a list of things we agree on or appreciate about each other. 4) Then we'll look at each of our differences in turn.
-I can be pretty intense about things. Please don't just disappear or walk out. If you need a break, it works fine for me if you explain what you need and tell me when you'll be back and ready to talk again.
Things that people who favor Compromising Style often find useful as suggestions to others:
-Being fair, realistic, moderate and reasonable is important to me. I appreciate it when others notice these values in me or bring them into a conversation about differences.
-If you back off a bit from your position or request, I'm likely to do the same.
-Take a "two-step approach" with me: 1) Say honestly what your first-choice solution would be; 2) Then without a lot of delay make an offer somewhere between your first choice and my first choice.
-Don't drag the discussion on and on. Let's say what we want, find a compromise we can both live with, and then and get on with things.
Things that people who favor Harmonizing Style often find useful as suggestions to others
-Talking about things in a way that is not angry or hostile is an important goal for me.
-I tune out of conversations that are long, heavy, and intense. Keep it "light". Have a sense of humor, express appreciation, be positive.
-For me, relationships always come before people. You'll probably get more of whatever you want from me if you use a two-step approach: 1) Begin on a light note and chat about non-serious things for a few minutes; 2) Only then settle down to serious discussion.
-I appreciate small gestures of friendship: a kind note, a compliment, bring me a cup of coffee, a thoughtfully chosen gift, a card, acknowledgement of work I've done, etc.
-Since I value relationships and hate offending anyone, it's easier for me to speak my mind if you assure me you really want to know what I think.
-I handle long discussions better if we take regular breaks and "lighten up" from time to time.
-I respect task-focused people who know how to notice and appreciate the human beings around them as they work.
Principles of Anger Management
What to Do When You're Angry
No matter what your conflict style, conflict brings anger. So anger management is an essential part of conflict management. Some guiding principles:
1. Anger is not the issue. How you manage it is what matters.
Anger is an emotion that everyone experiences. Don’t wish it away – it contains resources essential to self-protection and survival. Its key resource is ability to respond quickly - with high energy - to threatening situations. Our goal should be to manage anger so its energies are directed constructively. We do this more easily if we consider it an ally requiring careful mobilization rather than an enemy to be rid of.
2. Some people express anger externally, others direct it internally.
Anger that is externally expressed is easy to see - lots of noise, quick movements, and aggressive energy. Its dangers for relationships, emotions, and health are obvious. Anger directed internally is less visible, but carries large dangers of its own: chronic anxiety leading to stress-related illnesses and depression, relationships that die a slow, quiet death from distance and apathy, loss of hope and energy as people give up on things; periodic explosions when anger cannot be contained inside. If we only shut off or quieten expressions of anger we simply exchange one set of difficulties with another. The goal is healthy management of anger.
3. Anger is a secondary emotion.
There is always another emotion that comes before anger. Learn to be a good detective in uncovering what that emotion is, for when you can name it, you will move to a new level of self-management. Ask yourself – what other emotions do I sense here?
A clue: fear in one form or another lies behind almost all anger. Fear of injury, loss, or abandonment, fear of loss of autonomy or control, fear of embarrassment or exposure, etc. Most people are more in touch with anger than with their fears. After all, the heat and energy of anger is more life-giving than the cold paralysis of fear. And because anger rouses and activates, it has greater capacity to assist survival. But anger can easily crowd out attention to less noisy underlying issues. Anyone can learn to recognize the deep roots of their anger and, perhaps for the first time ever, position themselves to address it.
As you develop awareness of this primary emotion, work to understand it. Ask yourself:
- What sensations in my body do I associate with this emotion? (queasy gut, tight shoulders, sweaty palms, etc.)
- Where, when, with whom have I experienced this emotion in the past? Almost always, the emotions that trigger badly managed anger have their roots in experiences of childhood or youth.
- How did you deal with that past experience?
- What resources do you have today that you didn’t have or didn’t use back then?
- Some tools you can use to put that ancient experience to rest:
- Write a letter to someone who helped create the original fear. From a place of strength express your outrage. Do not send it; keep it for a few weeks, and when you are ready, destroy it.
- Write a letter of solidarity from yourself of today to yourself as you were in the original experience. File it, at least for a few months.
- With an understanding partner, roleplay a conversation with the source of your original anger.Be outraged and speak from a place of strength in the roleplay.
Recognize strengths or benefits that emerged in you as a result of that experience: grit, endurance, understanding, etc. No, this does not mean what happened was OK. It means rather that you are honoring your ability to not be completely defeated by hardship. Oddly, honoring strengths developed through hardship helps us rise above the past.
4. Self-awareness is key to anger management.
Anger becomes a problem when we are not able to consciously make choices about what to do with it. One of the most rewarding paths to its management is simply to increase our ability to recognize its presence in us and our response to it. The suggestions in point 3 above can help do this. When we can consciously recognize the physical sensations that accompany anger, we are much better positioned to make good choices about what to do with our emotions.
Some of the most highly refined tools for greater awareness of inner response are found in Buddhist literature, which sees lack of awareness as the primary obstacle to spiritual growth. Pema Chodron's "Don't Bite the Hook", for example, suggests that our inner response has "a familiar smell, a familiar taste" that we can easily learn to recognize. If we catch it early enough, she says, we can direct our response before it overwhelms us.
Mike Fisher, founder of the British Association of Anger Management, says anger is a defence mechanism against pain, and has produced a series of short, to-the-point free videos looking at anger from this perspective. (For fast reading, see the transcripts of the videos on that site, beneath the viewer) Some of these are for dealing with our own anger, some for dealing with the anger of others. If you struggle with your own anger, seek greater awareness of the influence of pain past and present on your thoughts and emotions. Such awareness won't alone make the pain go away, but it can greatly increase your ability to avoid being controlled by your pain. If you are struggling with the anger of others, you may find it empowering to consider them as individuals struggling, and not very successfully, against deep inner pain.
5. Healthy expression of anger means talking about your anger without being aggressive.
Recent research shows that expressing anger in an angry way feeds the problem. You can talk about your anger without yielding to the impulse to be aggressive or to hurt others. Say that you are angry, say why you are angry, say what other people can do to help improve things - and say these things without being hurtful, hostile or rude. If you cannot yet do this, limit your communication when you are angry so you reduce the damage to others. Follow up with talking after you have cooled down, and use the cool-down time for detective work in preparation (see 3 above) or to review communication skills that might be useful.
When you talk, a formula that often helps to frame things in a non-aggressive way is the “I message”: “I feel….when you…. because…” A similar tool is the “Impact statement”: “The impact of what you do on me is the following….”
You are more likely to have a successful experience in this conversation if you agree on a way to structure it. For example:
- Use a “talking stick” and agree that you will pass it back and forth as you speak.You can speak only when you are holding the talking stick (pen, pillow, book, etc.)
- Agree on a sequence to organize the conversation, such as: “We’ll begin by giving each person 5 minutes to explain without interruption what they are upset about. Then we’ll try to list the issues where we disagree. Third, we’ll see if there are points that we agree on. Fourth, we’ll return to where we disagree and try to resolve those.
- Agree to ground rules. For example, agree that each person needs to repeat back in their own words what the other person has said, to the satisfaction of that person, before responding.Carry this structure for at least 15 minutes into the conversation, and agree when to relax it. The pattern is: Person A speaks, Person B repeats back. Person B speaks, Person A repeats back. Repeat and continue.
6. Conflict style awareness is a simple and powerful tool for self-management.
When you recognize there are at least five different ways to respond to any conflict you expand your options and increase your chances of responding constructively. Comedian Craig Ferguson says that he has learned, when he is angry, to ask himself three questions:
1) Does this need to be said?
2) Does this need to be said now?
3) Does this need to be said now by me?
That's actually a simple strategy for conflict avoidance, often a good short-term choice if we or others have difficulty with anger management. Similarly, remembering that there are skills we can use to find solutions that meet the needs of both sides may help us to invest the energy required to cooperate in exploring the needs of both sides.
7. Make things right when you cause harm.
Hurting others is an inevitable consequence of poorly managed anger. Fortunately, most people get over such hurt pretty quickly if you are diligent about cleaning up the mess you’ve made. Apologize, without condition. Not a cowardly “I’m sorry if I hurt you…” or a whiny, blaming “I’m sorry I said that but you were the one who started it…”
If you’ve done harm, be courageous and admit it openly, take responsibility for your own actions, and give the other person space to recover at their own timing. "What I said was hurtful and exaggerated. I hurt you and I’m sorry.” Know that people move at differing speeds to the point of readiness for such an exchange.
A critical point: Timing is everything in apologies, so do not rush the process. A hasty apology is often understood by others as – and ofen is - a polite form of shushing, a way of sparing the apologizer the effort and stress that comes with hearing a full articulation of the painful consequences of their actions. It also positions the apologizer one convenient step away from grabbing the role of wounded one, as in “But I've apologized, so why are you still angry!” Offered as a hasty reaction or as a demand for forgiveness, apology may in fact be a mechanism for evading responsibility. At the very least, a too-hasty apology is likely to be perceived as such.
When you intend to take responsibility for your actions and assist healing, consider timing. Apologize after the one you have wounded has recovered a bit and no longer needs to vent frustration. Consider a double apology – the first may be early and brief, just enough to signal your spirit and intentions. The second one may come later, after the other person has recovered composure and is ready to forgive. And of course sometimes it is a good idea to ask the one you have hurt: "I want to let you know that I am sorry about what I did, and I want to say this to you when you are ready to hear it. Is this a good time or shall I wait?"