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20 Effective Ways to Control a Bad Temper

20 Effective Ways to Control a Bad Temper

Do you see red when your morning train is delayed? Do you feel your temper flaring when you have a hard day at work? Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, but it can often flare and cause issues in your life.

Check out 20 ways to help deal with your temper when it flares.

1. Take a timeout.

If you feel your temper slowly rising, remove yourself from the situation completely. Take a deep breath and count slowly to 10. This method often calms people down and stops them from reacting in an irrational manner, so you can solve your problems rather than continuing to fight.

2. Don’t carry your temper.

Often people become frustrated by one thing and end up carrying the anger around with them, long after the actual reason has passed. If you dislike your job, go to the gym or to the library before you go home from work. Take a little bit of time to let the anger pass so that the rest of your day isn’t clouded by it.

3. Keep a journal.

Try keeping a journal of your moods over a two week period. Look out for times you have become aggravated, and times you have remained calm. Write down what happened to trigger your temper, how you dealt with your anger, and how people reacted.

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4. Practice relaxation techniques.

When you become angry, try visualizing a place where you feel happy and calm. Take deep breaths, and repeat a word or phrase in your mind as you envision the place. Continue repeating the phrase and visualizing the place until you feel like you have control over your anger.

5. Take a walk.

Exercise in itself can be a great stress reliever, as your body releases endorphins as you walk. Remove yourself from the situation that has aggravated you, take a walk and get the chance to clear your mind and gain new perspectives. When you feel ready to deal with the situation, walk back with a clear head.

6. Take a class you enjoy.

Try joining a class where you will have the opportunity to vent and express your anger through a different method. Dance, running, and Zumba classes are all great ways to let go of tension in a relaxed and happy environment.

7. Change your mindset.

Sometimes people can make a stressful conversation even more stressful by having a negative outlook. Sometimes you have every right to be annoyed, but always try looking at the issue through another perspective. Often pessimistic thoughts can make everything seem worse than it is; try asking yourself if you are being a pessimist, an optimist or a realist.

8. Think of a funny memory.

If you have had a long, stressful day, anything from the commute home to burning dinner can leave you feeling angry. When you feel your temper rising over something small, think of a funny memory you have with your family or friends. Remind yourself that this is temporary, and it won’t matter in a few hours.

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9. Discuss how you feel.

If your temper mostly flares with the same person, try speaking to them differently to help make your point. If your partner doesn’t tidy the house, say, “I am upset I have to tidy every evening” rather than, “You never do any tidying.” Discuss your feelings, rather than putting down the other person, and it is likely they will stop aggravating you and will instead try to help.

10. Don’t hold grudges.

Don’t waste your time feeling angry about events which are over and unchangeable. It will make your life harder on a day-to-day basis, but it is likely the people you feel angry at don’t even think about the issue. Shrug off old arguments and focus on making yourself happy.

11. Listen to music during stressful times.

If you hate the commute to work, bring along an MP3 and listen to your favorite album until you arrive. If you hate working out, download an upbeat album to listen to as you exercise.

If you have troubles with your temper, doing tasks you hate can rile you up and leave you carrying the anger around with you all day. Listening to music while you do unpleasant tasks can help reduce and prevent any feelings of anger.

12. Identify a solution.

If you tend to get angry about the same things over and over again, work on them specifically. If you hate how messy your teenager’s room is, shut their door. If your partner never texts you back, ring them when you need to speak to them. Try to remind yourself that anger isn’t a solution.

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13. Know your triggers.

If taking about the environment or politics raises your temper, politely excuse yourself from the conversation while people discuss such matters. If you dislike busy places, do all of your shopping during the quietest times. If certain things aggravate you, avoid them or cut them out completely for a calmer life.

14. Set alarms for during the day.

If your temper often flares while you are at work, set a couple of alarms on your phone throughout the day. When the alarm goes off, take a minute to yourself. During this time think about how you are feeling, and why you feel this way. If you feel any negative emotions, address them so you don’t have to spend any more time thinking about it. After a minute, regroup and continue with your work.

15. Use calming scents.

If you have a place or a room where you often feel calm and relaxed, buy a scent you love for the room, such as lavender. When you are in the room, you will associate the smell with feeling calm and content. If you carry a scented cloth with you as well, you can use it later in stressful situations to help you feel calm and relaxed.

16. Smile.

When your temper has flared, the last thing most people want to do is smile. However, smiling lowers your body’s stress response, while quelling feelings of anger.

17. Stretch in the morning.

In the morning, most people tend to wake up, hit the alarm and jump in the shower. However, if you have a short temper and you’re “not a morning person,” try stretching when you first wake up. This gives you a few minutes to yourself before you get ready, it is good for your muscles, and it can be very calming.

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18. Look at your environment.

Try changing your surroundings if you regularly feel angry in the same places. If you feel your temper rising in a certain place, like work or the gym, ask yourself these questions; Do I like the people here? Do I like what I do while I am here? If the answer is no, it could be that you need to find a new place, where you feel less agitated.

19. Find a place you can be alone.

If you find any particular place very stressful, and you find your temper rising regularly when you are there, find a place you can be completely alone for a few minutes. Even if it is a toilet or an empty corridor, one minute alone can be more than enough time to calm down.

20. Know when to seek help.

Controlling anger can be a real issue for many people. If you regularly feel like you can’t control your temper, and you believe it has become a big part of your life which you can’t control, seek professional help so you can regain control of your emotions. Good luck!

More by this author

Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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