Have you ever needed to talk to someone at work about their behaviour? Perhaps they have upset you or made you feel angry and you now need to give them feedback.

Whilst it’s tempting to react in the moment, it’s far more productive to process your emotions first.

You might think of emotion, particularly anger, as fuel for the fight ahead, but if you want people to hear you and do something differently with their behaviours, you need to process your emotions before you have ‘that’ conversation.

This worksheet offers strategies to help you process your emotions, particularly anger, so you can communicate more effectively with others.

Learn to be a Conversation Engineer and have productive, positive conversations – even if you’re feeling angry or upset.

5 reasons why giving feedback when you’re angry is a bad idea

Reduced Thinking

When we’re angry our brain gets flooded with Cortisol which shuts off access to our prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for thoughtful decision-making, empathy, and understanding. In this state we’re more likely to react impulsively, have a heightened negativity bias, and be less capable of collaborative working.

Domino Effect

When we’re angry it can infect others’ mood. If the person we are talking to becomes flooded with Cortisol they will be unable to think rationally and our conversation is unlikely to have a positive outcome.

Message Distortion

When we’re angry we can trigger others’ defensiveness. People react to our anger and how we are communicating rather than listening to what we are trying to say.

Relationship Damage

Relationship Damage. Feedback given in anger can erode trust. Something we say in the heat of the moment can leave a lasting impact on others.

Career Limiting

Delivering feedback with anger can portray you as unpredictable, lacking in emotional control and not a team player.

Process your emotions as your first step

Processing emotions starts with acceptance. It is OK to feel the way you feel, your emotions are valid. Recognising and accepting our emotions rather than meeting them with shame or suppression is better for our physical and mental well being.

Emotions are formed by the way we respond to our internal thoughts or external events.

To help us allow our emotions to move through us, we need to understand that our experience of emotions, such as joy, anger, fear, or sadness, is shaped by a combination of our immediate experience, past experiences, and the way we judge those experiences.

Labelling Emotions

Naming your emotions helps boost acceptance of the emotion and offers psychological distance, enabling you to have better control over your reactions. By saying to yourself ‘I am experiencing the feeling of anger’ rather than ‘I am angry’ you are putting yourself into the position of observing your feelings rather than being consumed by them.

You can take labelling a step further with a technique [from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction] where you notice and describe the qualities of your feelings without trying to change or judge them.

Ask yourself:

Where am I noticing this feeling in my body?

How does it feel? Is it warm or cold? Heavy or light?

If this feeling was a colour, what colour would it be?

What shape does this feeling have?

The more you accept the presence of the feeling and mindfully notice its qualities the less likely you are to feel shame, try and suppress the emotion or become overwhelmed by your feelings.