“It’s Not What You Say But How You Say It”

Anger management and communication

A familiar comment we’ve all heard. We may be quick to say or think this of others but what about you? Does your voice tone convey unkindness to people? Do people tell you that you have “an attitude?” If so, does it bring you pleasure to have “an attitude?” Do you think you have good reason to speak to others without care for their feelings?

Maybe there is good reason for you to sound curt or annoyed. But maybe not and you don’t even realize how you sound nor do you mean to sound that way.

Self-awareness is the first step to good relationships. If you are told you often sound unkind or impatient or any other way by which others are bothered it might benefit you to discover why.

True enough your impatience may be warranted. But; peering inside your head and heart may reveal one of the following:

1. Your voice tone is a substitute for open, honest discussion about what you would like changed in the relationship. At some level you believe the other person will do what you want without your having to expend the time and energy to ask for it if that person hears unpleasantness in your tone. That is, he/she will do what you want to avoid hearing that disagreeable tone. (We all know unconsciously — and consciously — that if we discuss what we want changed by the other person we will, most likely, have to hear what the other person wants us to change as well.) Sounds likes too much of a hassle, huh? It seems easier to just sound brusque, I guess!

2. You are sounding unpleasant to someone because you have not dealt with what is bothering you that has nothing to do with that person. Your tone expresses what you need to attend to elsewhere. It never solves the problem to take out your feelings on an innocent person.

3. You carry resentments from before toward the person you are talking to and this carries over into the current situation. The current situation does not warrant this attitude but the old problems were never solved so muddy-up today’s interaction.

4. You were not spoken to nicely yourself growing up. Maybe you are imitating a tone used with you by people in your early life. It is possible you sound as if you are scolding and talking down to others in the way some parent-figures and ill-advised teachers speak to young children.

The above list refers to unintended unpleasant voice tone. But, for some people having an “attitude” is intended. It is used to give others the impression that they think they are superior to the other person. The reason some people do this is because they actually feel inferior and/or are afraid of the other person. That is, they believe, “Get them before they get you.” Another way this is often put is, “The best defense is an offense.”

If any of the aforementioned sounds like it could be you I say: Is it working for you? Do you feel good about yourself being this way or wouldn’t you like to change? KINDNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS as some people think. There are far better ways to communicate.

It is within your conscious control to speak to others in a respectful way. It feels so good to be spoken to respectfully yourself, doesn’t it? AND YOU SHOULD BE. Others should treat you well because you are a valuable person. Maybe it is time for you to make this request of others. Remember, the way they speak is in their conscious control also.

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