How do you respond when things don’t go your way or you don’t get what you want? The current news is filled with reports of people demonstrating their anger and rage about not getting what they want, and I am concerned that the methods too many have chosen to express their feelings are doing much more harm than good. The lack of ability to appropriately express anger and fear along with wants and needs is doing damage on a large scale in many cities, but it also impacts people on an individual level.
If it’s important to you to demonstrate maturity and self-control as well as communicate in a way that will give you credibility and reflect objectivity take the time and make the effort to be good and angry when you don’t get your way.
Life for you will always be difficult if you are unable to maturely, confidently, and fully express your concerns and let others know how you want things to change and that you’re willing to be part of the solution. If you struggle in this area you’re not alone. I often teach my clients to use The DESC Script tool in order to help them effectively manage their emotions and to constructively express what they want or need.
D – Describe your observations related to an experience objectively and without a great deal of detail.
E – Express both your thoughts and feelings.
S – State what you want and need.
C – Identify both the positive and negative Consequences related to your wants and needs.
Here is an example of what this technique might sound like:
D – “When I walked in the door tonight you looked at me but did not acknowledge me. I said, ‘Hello’ to you but you did not respond.” The description statement should be a simple, objective observation. You’ll note that there is no assumption or emotional language. It does NOT say, “I walked in after a horrible day at work” and it doesn’t say, “You looked at me like you were mad.”
E – Thoughts: “I know it is possible to be so focused on what you are doing at times that you may not notice that I arrived home, but tonight I don’t think that was the case. I think it was rude to not talk to me or acknowledge me when you saw me come in and heard me say, ‘Hello’ to you.” Feelings: “I feel disrespected, hurt and angry when that happens.”
S – “When I get home I often look forward to reconnecting with you, even if it is just with a warm ‘Hello’ or ‘How was your day?’ I would appreciate it if you would keep that in mind. If you are upset with me or preoccupied, I would like you to share that with me as well.”
C – Positive: “If we can agree to greet each other when we arrive home after having been apart for awhile, I think it will keep us emotionally connected and feeling good about each other in the moment.” Negative: “If we don’t do this, I’m concerned that it could lead to hard feelings and possible resentment.”
This example isn’t based on politics or current events, but I can assure you that if you use this format in a letter to elected officials in order to express your concerns, it will make a much more positive difference than acting out with destructive anger.
As individuals, we cannot always change what happens in the world around us, but we can learn to control our own words and actions in response to what happens. The DESC Script will help you make a positive difference in the sphere you influence and help you get what you want and need from your relationships.
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.