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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Healthy and Unhealthy Expressions of Anger

AngerAnger is expressed in one of four ways. Three out of the four types are unhealthy manifestations: aggressive, passive-aggressive and suppressive.  While only one, assertive is healthy. Most people remain consistently in one or two categories depending on the circumstances. For instance, a person might be aggressive at home (because they are more comfortable) but suppressive at work (because aggression is not tolerated).

The goal of anger management is to move a person from unhealthy expressions of anger into healthy communications. But this is difficult without accurately defining the harming behaviors. Use this list to identify unhealthy anger expressions in major relationships (spouse, parent, and child) and differing environments (home, work, and school).

Aggressive:

  1. When frustrated, can be direct and forceful
  2. Voice becomes louder when angry
  3. When confronted, there is a quick rebuttal
  4. Known for expressing opinions
  5. Other’s feelings are overlooked in light of resolving a problem
  6. History of bickering with family
  7. Tendency to be repetitious during arguments
  8. Hard to resist pointing out other’s mistakes or errors
  9. Strong willed
  10. Outburst is not proportional to event
  11. Throws things when angry
  12. Give advice without others asking for it
  13. Can be physical intimidating
  14. Hits during a disagreement

Passive-Aggressive:

  1. When frustrated, become silent knowing it irritates others
  2. Sulks and pouts
  3. Uses biting sarcasm to deflect
  4. Procrastinates with undesirable projects
  5. When frustrated, lies and says everything is fine
  6. Avoids responsibility by claiming forgetfulness
  7. Deliberately evasive so others leave alone
  8. Approaches work projects half-heartedly
  9. Stares straight ahead when confronted
  10. Intentionally missed deadlines
  11. Blames others for mistakes
  12. Complains about others behind their back
  13. Sabotages unwanted projects
  14. Refuses to do a favor knowing this will irritate

Suppressive:

  1. Doesn’t like others knowing personal problems
  2. When frustrated, portrays as having it all together
  3. Impatient about little things
  4. Reserved about sharing problems
  5. Won’t admit to being angry
  6. Won’t mention when others have said something upsetting
  7. Depressed and moody
  8. Lives on the edge of exploding
  9. Resentful thinking but never spoken
  10. Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach, sleep problems
  11. Wonders if opinions are valid
  12. When confronted, feels paralyzed
  13. Avoids conversations about sensitive subjects
  14. Erupts rarely and is quickly embarrassed

By contrast, the assertive checklist can be used to highlight appropriate expressions of anger and new ways of addressing conflict. It might seem unnatural at first but the end result of stronger interpersonal relationships is worth a bit of discomfort.

Assertive:

  1. When frustrated, expresses it without blaming others
  2. Doesn’t make threatening or intimidating remarks
  3. Is honest about feelings of anger without being forceful or meek
  4. Seeks to resolve conflict mutually
  5. Addresses sensitive subjects without insisting on being right
  6. Accepts responsibility for mistakes
  7. Willingness to forgive and leave other’s mistakes in the past
  8. Times confrontations so as to minimize intensity
  9. Confronts others kindly and gently
  10. Listens to other opinions without becoming angry
  11. Is respectful
  12. Sees the value in differing opinions
  13. Posture is neutral, not threatening or retreating
  14. Gains more trust after confrontation

 

Healthy and Unhealthy Expressions of Anger

 


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2017). Healthy and Unhealthy Expressions of Anger. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2015/09/healthy-and-unhealthy-expressions-of-anger/