But everyone experiences and expresses anger a little differently. Following, are descriptions of the many ways people show their anger or, alternatively, hold it in.
Understanding your strategies for anger expression can be helpful before you work on changing how you show your anger.
Keeping your coolYes, keeping your cool can be one way of expressing anger. Keeping cool means that you don't respond impulsively. You may take a slow, deep breath or two before saying anything. Then you directly express your feelings while trying to solve the issue or problem.
Verbal bashingVerbal bashing includes yelling, arguing, put-downs, and threats. Hurting people with words sometimes works at the moment, but it usually leaves a trail of resentment, anger, and bad feelings. For example, parents who frequently yell at their kids sometimes get momentary compliance but usually end up with rebellious, resentful kids in the long run. Not the best tactic if you're trying to cultivate a happy home.
Nonverbal bashingYes, you can clobber people without saying a word. Examples of nonverbal bashing include unfriendly gestures, such as pointing, clenched fists, and "flipping the bird." Facial expressions of anger include dismissiveness, hostility, and contempt (through sneers, prolonged angry stares, and snarls). You know a dirty look when you see one! Purposely ignoring and not speaking when spoken to also convey anger and hostility. Body language includes aggressive, puffed-up poses.
Suppressing angerPeople who suppress anger feel mad but work hard to hold it in. Usually, close friends and family members pick up on the anger that these people feel. However, some folks are masters at suppression, and no one truly knows how much hostility they hold inside.
Unfortunately, this type of anger often comes with common physical costs, such as high blood pressure, digestive problems, and heart disease. Chronic tension, unhappiness, fatigue, and distress frequently occur as well. Therefore, suppressing anger doesn't constitute a good anger-management strategy.
Passive-aggressive angerPeople who express their anger in a passive-aggressive manner try to find "safe" ways of showing their anger. They like for their behaviors to have plausible deniability of their actual angry feelings. In other words, they make excuses and claim that their motives were excusable. Examples of passive-aggressive behaviors include:
Chronic procrastination of promised tasks to get back at someone
Subtle sulking or pouting
Purposely performing a task for someone poorly
Purposely forgetting over and over to do a promised task
Indirect verbal expressions such as subtle sarcasm
Complaining and gossipingThis strategy, like passive-aggressiveness, generally feels safer than directly confronting someone with anger. Complainers and gossipers find sympathetic listeners that will hear their frustrations, woes, and anger about someone else. That way, they avoid actually confronting the person they're angry with. And, not surprisingly, little gets resolved in the process.
Physical aggressionSlamming doors, punching holes in walls, and throwing dishes all fall under the category of physical aggression against objects. This type of aggression can feel very intimidating to those who witness it. Furthermore, these behaviors sometimes precede physical aggression against persons. Assaults can take the form of pushing or shoving, punching, and slapping, and they can even include the use of weapons. Obviously, physical aggression is almost always abusive to both recipients and witnesses.
Physical aggression with anger is only adaptive when you're actually under attack from someone else, and it's necessary for your own survival. Physical aggression doesn't lead to solutions.