Anger has a way of getting the best of us. Most of the time, it’s better to walk away and take a few minutes to cool off, but you may not always have the time or space to do so. A “discomfort caveat” can inform the other party that you’re not thinking as clearly as you’d like to and help keep the conversation under control.
We’ve all been there, you’re absolutely livid about something, yet you need to express exactly how you feel in the moment. Instead of losing your focus to rage and communicating poorly, Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good blog suggest you employ a “discomfort caveat”:
Let other people know explicitly that you are experiencing intense emotions and because of this, it is more difficult than usual for you to communicate clearly. Apologize in advance, not for your emotions or your actions but for the potential lack of clarity in how you convey what you’re about to say. The aim of the discomfort caveat is to disarm the person, to keep them from becoming defensive. When someone hears that you are uncomfortable and that the conversation is difficult for you, it increases the likelihood that they will approach what you have to say with empathy.
If you dive into a conversation only spitting poison, you’re going to make the other party defensive and want to return fire. Letting them know from the start that you’re a bit of an angry mess gives them the opportunity to properly manage their expectations. Sometimes good communication means clarifying how capable you are of actually communicating at the time.
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