Dealing with Anger in Conflict (part 2 of 2)

April 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

I think that as I have become older I have learned to channel my anger to grow and learn.

Anger in Conflict

In the past I might have repressed my anger and tried to make it go away by diminishing the importance of what was angering me. However as I have become older, I am learning to grow and look at what part of the incident might have been my fault. When I take time to think back on a scenario I am able to look at what I might have been able to do to prevent the event that led me to become angry.

For example, one of the ways that I channeled my anger in the work example I shared yesterday is to think, “What could I have done to defend myself better on the spot?” I realized that I should have said and done more that would have let her know in the middle of the confrontation that what she said needed to be changed. I channeled my anger as an opportunity to grow and learn about how to deal with conflict. I also channeled my energy from the anger to confront the woman about what was said. I experienced what a textbook describes: “Anger can be a wake-up call, a motivator, and an energizer—a source of empowerment (usually) for the person who feels it.”[1] Anger definitely served that purpose for me in this scenario. Confronting others is not easy and it takes courage so I used that anger as energy to confront my coworker.

The material from a course I took called, Conflict Transformation in Ministry, has been helpful to me in thinking about how I want to change how I deal with conflict. As Dr. Dunn shared in almost every lecture, “Dealing with conflict starts with me.”[2] I can definitely say that I now understand myself better in how I deal with anger and navigate conflict. I have noticed that when I encounter anger it is often mixed in with sadness as well. I am not sure why this happens, but it does.

For example, at the height of my anger with my coworker I began to cry. I think that the pain that comes with that sadness is also what drives me to fix the conflict and work through it. I realized this sadness might actually help me in conflict when I learned in our textbook that, “Sadness and depression may help in conflict resolution because the feelings are so unpleasant that we are moved to find new solutions to problems.”[3] The hurt and pain that I felt was plenty of drive for me to want to fix the problem. Two other lessons I have learned about my own anger in conflict are that it is ok to express myself in confrontation, and when I express my anger, it needs to be purposeful. Expressing anger just because you feel it does not mean the anger will go away. Our text teaches us, “Venting does nothing to help the conflict process . . . If you feel the need to vent, do it with a safe friend, a counselor, or a designated third party—not the conflict partner with whom you are attempting to work. Venting can feel wonderful for a while—but the price is usually too high to warrant the ‘Yes!’ feeling of telling the other person off.”[4] Thankfully based on my own prior growth, our class, and the text we have been reading, I now feel better equipped to deal with my own anger and conflict.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dunn, Ph.D., Larry. “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, Theology.” Lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011.

Wilmot, William and Joyce Hocker. Interpersonal Conflict. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.


[1] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 202.

[2] Larry Dunn, Ph.D., “Understanding Conflict: Introduction, Orientation, (lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 1, 2011).

[3] William Wilmot and Joyce Hocker, Interpersonal Conflict, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011), 204.

[4] Ibid., 208.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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