You may have noticed that anger is becoming an increasing emotion during quarantine. Managing the daily stressors of change, negotiating needs with others during cohabitation, and overall feelings of restriction may contribute to feelings of irritability and anger. You may also be moving through the Anger stage of grief as you assess loss in your life and Covid-19’s contribution to this loss. When another person triggers an angry emotion, consider using assertive communication to convey your experience and get your needs met. The following will discuss DEESC script, an efficient way to practice assertive communication when someone has violated your boundary and triggered an angry emotion.
Describe the behavior in a concise, objective way. Use just a few words to describe the situation.
ex. Hakim, I have noticed that I am washing most of the dishes.
Express how the situation makes you feel. Keep this related to “I” statements that do not disparage or put down the other person.
ex. When I am the only person washing the dishes it makes me feel resentful.
Empathize with the other person’s perspective. This is very important and difficult to do. It requires that you pause your experience to genuinely examine how the other person may be feeling or why they may be behaving in that way.
ex. I understand you may be busy or don’t like washing the dishes.
Specify what you want/need to happen. Be clear about the change that you would like to see.
ex. Maybe we can discuss a way to share the dish washing chore or maybe you can take over another chore exclusively.
Consequence. Describe a positive or negative consequence. If the person does/does not comply with your request (if…then). This can be a benefit of the behavior change or a boundary that you choose to draw. It is pivotal that you stick to the consequence, so do not choose one that is unreasonable or an unlikely follow through.
ex. If we are able to work this out I feel it would reduce my feelings of resentment and not get in the way of our relationship.
Try practicing this before you use it. Consider someone’s behavior that is making you angry, write a DEESC script about it, then practice the script, then use it. It is very important to note that DEESC scripts do not always result in the person changing their behavior, but it always gives you information about where the other person stands, so you can make an informed decision about your relationship.
The goal is to increase the ability to express anger in a respectful method, rather than bottling up your resentments and having them seep out passive aggressively, or flying into a rage and loosing control of your behavior aggressively. The other person may be responsive to your needs or may not be. If someone is regularly unresponsive to your needs, you may learn that this person may not have the capacity to meet certain needs and you can make a decision on the type of relationship you continue with them. Alternatively, you may learn that maybe your needs are unreasonable and you have to reexamine them. Either way, it is important information for self-reflection.
If you find that you are often enraged and engaging in aggressive behaviors that physically and emotional hurt people, consider getting help to understand its roots, patterns, and learning methods to manage your anger. It is scary to be out of control and it is terrifying to be the victim of someone’s rage, but you can get help.
Adaobi Anyeji, Phd
The Blue Clinic
Specializing in the treatment of sadness, depression, worrying, anxiety
Los Angeles based Private Psychology Practice
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