11 Ways To Understand & Learn Assertive Anger (2024)

Are you tired of being aggressive when angry? And do you want to avoid the dangers of suppressing your anger?

Enter assertiveness.

With assertive anger, you can feel angry, stay calm and still directly express your anger respectfully. And this article is here to help you do it.

Let’s dive in!

1. Understand That It’s Okay to Feel Angry

Because we see anger ruining relationships in our daily lives, many of us tend to think being angry is bad. But anger is a neutral emotion just like fear, guilt, and sadness. It is neither good nor bad, but how you deal with it determines its outcome.

Let me explain further.

What causes people to be angry? We feel anger when:

  • Our efforts aren’t appreciated
  • Someone’s demands on us are outrageous 
  • We experience injustice 
  • Someone mistreats us
  • We feel powerless
  • Someone doesn’t respect our feelings and needs
  • We get impatient over something 
  • A traumatic experience is stirred up 

As you can see, anger is a normal human physiological reaction. In simple terms, it’s okay to feel anger.

Knowing this truth is crucial to learning and practicing assertive anger management. That being angry isn’t bad, but how you deal with anger is what matters.

2. Understand Why You’re Angry

Understanding why you’re angry in any situation is the beginning of smart anger expression. But why?

If you have no idea why you’re angry in the first place, how are you going to know if your anger is justified or not? And how can you know who has wronged you anyway? 

Assertive Anger
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Sometimes, you might be angry because someone has reminded you of something in the past which made you angry. Perhaps your girlfriend brought home a shirt with a print similar to that of your childhood abuser. Because you never really dealt with those past feelings, you get mad at her and despite her doing nothing wrong, you fail to communicate why her kind gesture is unpleasant to you.

This happens more often than you’d imagine – of course not along with the same story but since we have some issues attached to our past, we might misdirect our anger due to unresolved past feelings.

So whenever angry, ask yourself why?

Related: CLEAR Signs A Man Has Anger Issues

3. Know It’s Okay to Take a Time Out Before Expression

You express aggressive anger mostly when you don’t take your time to calm down or exercise self-control before dealing with a situation testing your patience. This is the reason why your opinions may be dismissed.

But to understand assertive anger management, you must learn how to take some time to calm down before expressing yourself. This may take anything from 15 minutes to even a day. 

For instance:

  • When your partner says something unpleasant and you want to lash out at them, ask for some time to think and go to the closet to calm yourself down
  • Your boss may tell you that they need you to do work before you go on vacation. When you look at it, it’s downright impractical and you may have to miss your flight if you’d get back to work. Instead of responding instantly, take your time to come up with a polite, yet assertive declination of that request
  • You’ve gotten into an intense argument with your roommate and you feel like bursting out of proportion. Tell them you need time to think and spend the rest of your day in the park to contemplate the best conflict resolution strategy for the situation

You get the point. 

Assertive anger management is about finding alone time to eliminate reactive anger, passive anger, and passive-aggressive anger enough to express assertive anger.

4. Know in Advance That Not Everyone Will Validate Your Anger

If you want to master assertive anger management, you have to know in advance that not everyone will understand your anger just because you’ve expressed it assertively.

Despite your clear explanations, some would still misunderstand you. And when they do, remember you can’t control how others behave. But you can control how you behave.

Even if some people resent you, get more aggressive, and express anger in other unpleasant ways, don’t retaliate.

Instead, be prepared to remain assertive despite their reaction.

5. Practice Validating Other People’s Needs and Your Own

Assertive anger management is about respecting the other person’s feelings plus needs, and your own. It doesn’t seek to manipulate, belittle, or use other negative types of anger expression.

Keep in mind that validating someone’s needs and opinions doesn’t mean you accept them. It all means you respect someone’s point of view of what they need and think is right.

So if for instance, your partner tells you to prepare them a cup while on your way out to an appointment you’re late for, instead of doing it grudgingly while getting more late (suppressing your anger) or retorting at them with something like “You know I’m late for my appointment and yet you’re demanding a cup of coffee?” come up with an assertive statement that acknowledges your needs and theirs too in a polite way.

You can say, “I know you’d love a cup of coffee right now but I am also late for the appointment I told you about. So I can’t make it to prepare the coffee. Sorry!”

See, you validate their needs but also politely assert your own.

6. Learn to Express the Best Middleground Solution

As with the point above, another strategy for assertive anger management is to think over a situation to not only validate each other’s needs but also come up with the best solution that meets those needs.

For the situation we talked about above, for example, you can volunteer a solution that fits you both and your partner.

You can say, “Honey, I am late for the appointment I told you about so I can’t make a cup of coffee for you right now. But how about I make it when I’m back an hour from now or bring you that cappuccino from Freddie’s that you like.”

Assertive anger seeks to be collaborative. This way, you can be a leader in conflict resolution in various aspects of your life.

7. Actively Listen

As we discussed earlier, you need to know the needs of others to validate them and come to a middle ground.

Actively Listen
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

But how can you do that if you don’t listen to them in the first place?

The more you listen, the more you’ll settle conflicts even without influencing your opinions on someone else. This means you have to listen even if you feel you’re right and someone is entirely wrong. 

While you listen and clarify every point you haven’t understood, you’ll realize your anger reducing and your understanding increasing.  This helps you express your own feelings with assertion much better.

8. Explain Your Dissatisfaction in “I” Statements

Think about it; how do you feel when someone tells you, “You insulted me during the meeting and disrespected me in front of everyone!” Attacked, right?

But what if someone told you, “I felt insulted when you made those comments about my race since I worked hard to achieve those results just as everyone else no matter what race they’re from.” Less confrontational, right?

Expressing anger in terms of “You” brings aggression instead of assertiveness. But using “I” to explain your point of view helps someone understand that they made you angry and how.

9. Relax Your Posture and Tone

Being assertive follows a relaxed body language. Since you don’t have to tower above everyone else nor do you have to shrink due to oppression, you need to talk while your body and your tone are calm.

Here are behavioral tips to help you nail an assertive posture and tone:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Take deep breaths to calm yourself
  • Take the same position as others (Stand if they’re standing, sit if they’re sitting e.t.c)
  • Talk slowly and clearly

Related: Ways How To Stop Your Reactive Anger

10. Boost Your Self Esteem

Anger issues, as well as anger management, stem from self-esteem.

Suppressing your anger can be a result of low self-worth – meaning you don’t believe your needs and opinions are worthy of being heard and loved.

Aggressive anger also comes from a place of vulnerability. You try desperately to be heard but in the wrong way since deep down, you think others deem you worthy. It may also stem from inflated self-esteem as in narcissists who like to think they’re better than others because they feel insecure about the idea of being equal to other humans.

Therefore, to embrace long-lasting assertive anger management, you must deal with low self-esteem and learn to love yourself (your needs, wants, opinions, imperfections–everything).

11. Ditch the Need to Be Right

Last but not least, to be successful in assertive anger expression, you must quit wanting to be right all the time. The truth is, no matter how wise you are, there are things you don’t know.

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

Therefore, when communicating assertively, you must see your needs as what you think you need and not necessarily a universal truth.

This helps your listeners respect your view even if they don’t share it. And it also opens avenues to learn so you practice more assertive communication.

More on Assertive Anger – Q&A

Want to know more about assertive anger and its relation to other types of anger expression? Stay with me a little longer in this section!

What causes anger?

What causes people to get angry usually ranges from impatience, feeling unappreciated, memories of enraging traumatic events, normal life stresses like financial difficulties, and other personal issues.

What is an example of assertive anger?

Assertive anger is anger expressed in a direct, non-confrontational, non-threatening manner when feeling angry. An example of assertive anger can be expressed in this statement; “I feel/felt angry when you do/did X”

What are the four anger styles?

While there’s a wide range of anger styles, you’ll find four main categories which include, passive anger, passive-aggressive anger, assertive anger, and aggressive anger. 

Is assertive anger bad?

Assertive anger is the most positive anger management where one communicates feelings of anger in a direct but respectful manner to themselves and others.

Anger management – How do you develop an assertive anger?

  1. Understand That It’s Okay to Feel Angry
  2. Understand Why You’re Angry
  3. Know It’s Okay to Take a Time Out Before Expression
  4. Know in Advance That Not Everyone Will Validate Your Anger
  5. Practice Validating Other People’s Needs and Your Own
  6. Learn to Express the Best Middleground Solution
  7. Actively Listen
  8. Explain Your Dissatisfaction in “I” Statements
  9. Relax Your Posture and Tone
  10. Boost Your Self Esteem
  11. Ditch the Need to Be Right

Anger issues – Anger and aggression

What causes anger issues include unresolved past trauma, prolonged life problems, and some mental health disorders. Anger in itself isn’t bad but just a natural emotion. But if it’s not handled assertively, anger issues like passive aggression will likely crop up in a person.

Assertive vs reactive anger

Assertive means the anger is communicated in a direct but calm proactive manner. However, reactive anger is impulsive in that the angry person is controlled by their emotions to the extent of showing violence.

Following the Assertive Anger Way of Life

Are you intrigued by assertive anger management? That’s incredible, we’ll all make the world an amazing place if we become assertive people. 

While applying these tips to gain assertiveness, remember to work on your self-esteem for lifelong results.

Don’t forget to put your thoughts on this piece below! Also, share with friends to improve relationships!

Thanks for stopping by!

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.