How do I get my point across without sounding angry?
The best way to get another person to really hear what we are trying to say consists of two main actions.
- Never try to get an important point across when either of you is angry, but especially when the other person is angry. If you are angry, the person is going to be defensive because of your anger, and not really focus on what you are saying. If they do hear what you are saying, they are likely to just dismiss it out of defensiveness. If the other person is angry, they are too overwhelmed by their own cortisol levels (our stress hormone) for their brain to be able to receive any input anyway. So the best course of action is to wait to discuss it until both of you are calmed down and able to remain calm when talking about it.
- When you do discuss your point, use what we call “I language.” Talk about your feelings, your goals, and what is or is not working for you. Talk about yourself, aka “I.” So instead of saying, “Why do you always take the kids’ side? You know that pisses me off”, you would say “When i hear you say that I am too harsh of a parent, I assume you are taking the kids’ side instead of finding a way to work with me on this. Is this right? I get really frustrated because it is important to me that we are united in our parenting. I worry that we won’t be good at standing together in situations like this.” Obviously, the second response is much easier the other person to hear and respond to. It makes him/her much less defensive because you are not putting him/her on the hot seat. Instead you are just explaining your concerns and inviting them to talk with you about it.
Try saying “I feel this way about…” instead of “Why do YOU always….”
Contributed by Michelle Haeur