What to say after an Argument

And how to recover from Anger


The four steps of NVC (Non Violent Communication)

  1. The behavior/action that causes anger/stress/pain etc
  2. I feel _____
  3. I need _____
  4. “Can you_____”: Request a new behavior

Transcript of Video

Hi I’m Angela and this video is what to say after an argument.

I’m going to share some of the Non-Violent Communication Strategies, but before I even go there want to be really clear that after an argument there’s a lot that’s going on. You may be in shock because you’ve expressed anger and something’s vibrating in you. I’m a very emotionally and physically charged person. So after anger I actually feel like I’m not even myself. I feel different. So it might not be the best time to practice the nonviolent strategies!

You might need to go to a different room, you might need to breathe, you might need to take yourself out of the house, you might need to just do something that breaks the energy, like humour can work for some people, ordering a pizza! Whatever! Something out of the box.

It may not be the best time to talk and they are my caveats for the next pieces I’m sharing on nonviolent communication as developed by Marshall Rosenberg and it’s taught in many different schools and they actually teach you how to do it through a lot of repetition. So it works best when it’s done through practice. And I use the strategies as a general guide. And I first tell myself what do I need when I’m angry? It’s usually just some breathing and I also need nurturing so I know that those are my go-to responses.

So that’s a good thing to do: just ask what your body, what do you need after you are angry? You know some people need a drink! So when you are ready to communicate, the steps in non-violent communication are pretty simple principles and they work in four steps.

And the first step is actually the hardest because you got to strip away the emotion in it and and specify the behavior or the action that’s causing the anger. So the action that’s causing the anger can be a specific incident, like someone slamming a door but even “slamming” can be very emotional so “when you close the door” is a simpler version.

And then the second step would be to say: “I feel” (blank).  So “When you close the door, I feel surprised/ frightened”

And then the third step is to express what you have a need for.  So nonviolent communication is based on every human is exactly the same. Whether you’re multi-millionaire or someone on the street, we’ve all got the same needs emotionally and as humans.

So the third step is to express your need. So “When you slam the door, I feel shocked or surprised and little scared and I need, I have a need for peace (or whatever your need is). Can you close the door with more quietness or gentleness or more awareness?”

So the fourth step which I just verbalized: “can you close the door with more quietness or more awareness?” It is asking for a different behavior from the person. “Can you” with a request, rather than: “why don’t you close the door with more quietness!”

And interestingly, I’ve noticed this door slamming situation or noise as I’m more sensitive with my meditation practice I’ve become more aware on a sound level as well. I can’t handle loud music (it’s old age as well). But I can’t handle things that before I used to tolerate really well.

So this actual four-step process works really well before the anger gets to a boiling point. And works to short-circuit things that if you notice repetitive behaviours, you can actually say: “look when this happens, I feel (fill in the blank) I have a need for (fill in the blank), can you do this differently?”

And this process of thinking that way is a lot connected to what I share about anger. Anger is actually a teaching moment of what you are really really needing, not just in your relationship but in your life. The relationship is there to serve you to get what you need in your life.

So anytime you have anger it’s a gift and I know it’s powerful, it’s scary and it’s awakening and it can be jarring for some of you. And for me it has been. So I’m very aware that when you’re angry as well, you have certain needs just physically. Just to acknowledge that maybe you need to feel safe, maybe you need to go for a walk, maybe you need to sit, maybe you need to be quiet, maybe you need to be with someone, maybe you need to talk.

So when you are recovering from an argument: do that first step. Ask your body, ask yourself what do you need at that moment so you can handle recovering from the anger.