Venting Frustration while Maintaining Relationship
Finding another perspective
Venting frustration implies that we are going to outwardly express our disappointment, anger, or hurt. The first thing we need to understand and consider is that something has happened differently than we planned. Someone did not show up as we expected. Before taking our feelings to another, it will be helpful if we can identify our judgments, expectations and intentions.
What did we expect/plan in this situation? What difference did our planned outcome make? What feelings have we attached to the situation, behaviors, ideas, and outcome? Are we willing to own our feelings, before we confront another? What are our intentions, in the situation and in verbally expressing our frustration?
If we are willing to search ourselves and own our feelings, we are less likely to be mean to another. It is important to find a listener who will not take sides or become invested in your story if the intention is to remain kind (not be mean). With or without a listener, here are some techniques that will allow a reframing of the situation:
Retell the story in the third person. Imagine that you are outside of the situation, a witness or reporter, able to see the story from the outside and interview all the parties. Restate the facts as this outsider. Perhaps there is something that is missed as we embrace the first person in our drama.
Another technique is to argue the opposite point of view. Imagine that you are in the role of the person(s) with whom you are frustrated. Honestly step outside of your feelings as be on the other side. Present the facts as the one being confronted. At the finish, acknowledge what new insights have been gleaned in the exercise.
The above techniques are for defusing anger and frustration internally. Once we have identified what we are feeling we are less likely to take out that hurt on others. In general, we seem to be geared toward compartmentalized physical expressions of anger (hitting pillows, breaking glass, screaming, yelling, and even exercising) without internal examination of our own participation in the process that seems to be frustrating.
Finally it is time to verbally express that frustration, if is still exist. While this is a pattern, it is helpful in clearly expressing the event, the feelings and the expectations. Using the following statement will help avoid attacking. "I feel (______) when (the event) because I (hoped, planned, expected _____)." If the frustration is being expressed toward the impetus, allow for response. Please wait for the response. The other person need time to absorb the information. If you are sharing with another listener, continue eye contact and notice your own feelings. The listener can rephrase what has been spoken for clarity, but input is unnecessary. Input, sometimes called feedback, is at times another person's buy-in to your distress and not an opportunity to clear things up.
As we own our own feelings and expectations, we allow others to take responsibility for their behaviors and motivations. There are times when we do not have the entire story. Once more of the facts are available we can be completely committed to the choices we make and their results.