Am I The Only One Around Here Who Gives A Shit About The Rules? (Anger Management)

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post entitled The Secret Genius (Attitude is Everything).

It was a Wisdom Wednesday topic I wanted to broach about the importance of both vision AND application in becoming the “you” that you want to be in life. And yes, factors of genetics, ambition, effort, personality and environment are all to be considered when you decide to change your attitude and become the master of your destiny.

Without regurgitating the entire article, I’ll simply state that genius can be cultivated, and geniuses cultivate their curiosity by learning new things, visiting unfamiliar territory, and asking a lot of questions. Or to put it in Dean Keith Simonton’s words – geniuses tend to be open to experience, introverted, hostile, driven and ambitious. Also, geniuses can find patterns where others won’t (Erika Andersen on Malcolm Cowley).

It’s a compelling argument, and something about taking ownership of your life and putting together the pieces, is very appealing to me on a personal level. But there is some required reading in-between the lines too here. In order to be a successful “genius” a positive attitude is essential in relation to your personal motivation and when communicating your ideas. But what I didn’t discuss in that article I wrote two years ago, is that controlling your emotions is just as important of a component when you finally decide to commit to the house rules.

Don’t Look Back In Anger

It can be difficult to admit when you are lacking in a quality. I myself struggle with my emotions, daily. I’m not an emotive person by nature, but I am an emotional person. I feel things deeply and though I operate from a place of analysis, knowledge, and conceptualization, my second-most dominant motivator in life is meaning, significance and compassion.

What this has meant for me is that as I grew into adulthood, I learned to communicate through the lens of my own experience, but often accomplished it by either denying my feelings or holding them at arms length.

In reality I still had the emotions, and when they did surface, they would often come out as anger. I cannot begin to describe all of the reasons why I believe anger is the emotion I gravitate towards in expressing myself, but even more frustrating is the impact it can have on my loved ones. While I may not truly feel angry at the time I am addressing my emotions, it doesn’t mean those people don’t feel the heat from my internal process, and more often then not, those feelings come from a place of victimization.

As I wrestle with my feelings, I go through the entire emotional gamut, often landing at a place of compassion and understanding. But the emotional violence that I and my audience endure is difficult to wrestle with.

Last night Mysticque and I had a good long chat about the way I process new information, my emotional reactions, and how it effects her, and I came to the realization (with her help), that I do this so often, that I am not even aware of it’s impact on my life – I want to be clear that I while I start off this way, it never finishes with the same feelings, because I do process the feelings.

However, I have decided to make a conscious effort to become better in touch with my emotions and express them in a more balanced and moderate manner.

Which is why I am going to take responsibility for my anger going forward.

Anger Is As Anger Does

In a world where anger is often seen as a negative characteristic, it can be difficult to see it for what it is – potential unfulfilled.

We can channel anger into productivity, and we can use it as a source of personal power. But that means recognizing you have anger, and that you are not a master of it. Yet.

If you move through your feelings, you can prevent emotional toxic buildup, but anger needs an output to be constructive, just like any other dangerous tool. Proceed with caution! Exercise, meditation, creative writing, art making, and even driving can become major contributors to releasing anger; because they give the anger purpose and focus it.

Additionally, your mental head space needs to be receptive to change. If you can identify the source of the anger and why you were triggered, you can begin to separate yourself from your emotions and choose when to engage them. By looking at your past history with key events, people, and topics, as an outsider looking in (by literally viewing it as a story) you can learn how to let go and focus on the present.

And one other thought – it is completely up to you to make this change. No one can do it for you, because this is a paradigm shift. Yes, YOU can learn to access and express your anger in a healthy way. Yes, YOU can choose to see that anger doesn’t have to be a destructive force, but a warning signal that something is wrong when you feel it, and also a tool for appropriate self-defence when expressed.

theories Summarized

I still have a long way to go in my mastery over anger. But even the smallest act of saying out loud to someone I trust that this is a challenge in my life, means that I can move forward and look at the situation differently. Anger is a tool to be used in both recognition and implementation, just like any other dangerous object.

A theory to consider, at the very least.


Turn It Down Already! (The Essence of Listening Skills)

I’ve struggled to accept this fact for almost the whole of my life, but for the most part, we are bad listeners. Communication problems are often at the heart of the issues most of us deal with – at the office, in the car with the kids, over dinner with our spouse, and pretty much everywhere we go.

Listening skills should NOT be a latent talent that only a few of us possess, something that is mocked or worse, both of those things. We need beacons of light to demonstrate the awesome prowess of listening, and I know examples exist – I’m looking at you Steven Universe, and your genius creators for one!

Why You Are A Bad Listener

I’m not going to pretend to know what makes people into bad listeners, but I can tell you that there are behaviours out there, which I am just as guilty of as the next person, that contribute to bad listening, and even moreso, bad communication. I’ve gone over the basics of communication already, and I’ve even dedicated some efforts to addressing the ever-so-subtle interpersonal communication, but stopping behaviours can be just as important as starting up new ones, dear readers.

Have you considered that you think of yourself too much, for starters? We all do it, we think of how information is going to impact us, but when you only focus on your own challenges, it just won’t jive in good listening. On top of that, your mind can wander from one topic to the next if you don’t concentrate, and when you do focus on what’s being said, you risk getting caught up in the topic, and completely missing the point at hand. Also, being distracted by other things can make it worse – deadlines, illness, problems in other life arenas all vie for your attention. You need to do yourself a favour and put a pint in it until the chat is over.

And we haven’t even considered how nurture, in the eternal struggle between nature, screwed the pooch on your listening training growing up. What, you say? There was training on listening skills? Well not exactly, etiquette isn’t a universal truth shared with all students.

Of course if someone decides to start cutting you down, you might get defensive, and that’s when you fail to hear what has been shared. On the opposite side of the equation are the helpers who assess a problem, and attempt to fix, without an invitation. And so Mr. Fix-it stops properly listening.

The Types of Listening Skills

Now that you’ve gotten a good dose of where we fail to listen, I think it might be a good time to address what kinds of listening you will need to apply to improve your social standing.

Critical – this for is when you need to evaluate information and either formulate a solution, an opinion or make a decision.

Appreciative – listening for the sake of personal growth and enjoyment. Movies, music and theatre all come to mind.

Discriminative – you need to determinate a dialect, members in a group, if a conversation is amicable or turning violent and a host of other nonverbal cues related to someones feelings.

Relationship – listening to understand someone, whether they need to vent or not, you have to show your support by retaining the details and feeling what they feel.

Comprehensive – focus on the speaker and the message they are sharing, in order to take direction and then apply it to your own role.

How To Become An Artful Listener

Ultimately, if you want to become an excellent listener you are going to have to learn how to be present. This is not a metaphor for becoming a present, but it is a gift nonetheless.

Forbes wrote a great article on the 10 key steps to skillful listening, and the brilliant thing about this post is that while you may need to practice one or all of these steps to get better, you can totally fake it till you make it, because so many of us are terrible at listening already.

But what are the steps you ask?

  1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact
  2. Be attentive, but relaxed
  3. Keep an open mind
  4. Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying
  5. Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions”
  6. Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions
  7. Ask questions only to ensure understanding
  8. Try to fell what the speaker is feeling
  9. Give the speaker regular feedback
  10. Pay attention to what isn’t said – to nonverbal cues

You’ll notice that these steps all relate to the previous symptoms of bad listening AND simultaneously recognize the 5 types of listening skills we need to employ. On top of that, the author suggests that at the end of your conversation, to summarize any actionables and agreements that were made.

It might not feel comfortable at first, but over time it will become second nature to you. And lastly, while I didn’t spell it out above,you need to create a receptive environment for listening – turn off all the digital distractions and refrain from bad habits like yawning, frowning or fidgeting.

theories Summarized

Silence might be golden, but it is not guarantee of authenticity. Fool’s gold can look just as valuable to the untrained eye. The skilled person takes on listening as an active skill which will always need to exercised to maintain your health and wealth. It shouldn’t be a mere theory that there is gold in them hills, let’s get out there and level the playing field folks!

And that’s all the wisdom I’ll dole out today.


Conjunction Junction (Interpersonal Communication)

Language sure is weird.

Did you ever hear the expression “all dogs are mammals, all mammals are animals, therefore all dogs are animals?” Well I’m sure you have dear readers, but I have to wonder if you know the reason why it’s used fairly commonly (read: not that commonly) in academics or by people who want to be academics.

This statement is a syllogism associated with predicate logic; a type of logic which shows how the subjects and predicates of such statements relate to those in other statements in an argument. To put it another way, syllogisms are an instance of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from propositions that share a commonality and one final statement that combines second terms of the initial propositions in a way to infer a conclusion.

Another very well known example is that “all men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.”

Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.

The Challenge Of Language

Communication is exactly that though. Making sense of language, verbal and nonverbal, as well as written, in order to best exchange information, feelings and meaning between a pair of people or to a group of people.

This is where interpersonal communication comes in. It’s a communication process that happens between two or more people. It is a face-to-face interaction that further addresses two of the three previous topics we’ve already covered in the communication basics series. Verbal and nonverbal communication.

To Put In

Interpersonal communication skills really are the most essential of skills in life, in my opinion, of course. We deal with so many daily challenges, rare opportunities and unexpected encounters throughout our time on this spinning ball of dirt that we need to be prepared to communicate well, whether at work or in our personal lives. The truth of it is, well, the truth is that people who have invested the time in developing their interpersonal skills get further along in life.

Probably because those people are more charismatic and appealing. And if we’re being honest, we can all benefit from being more appealing. Also, you can’t stop interpersonal communication from happening. No matter who you are and where you are going in life, you just can’t stop interpersonal communication from happening.

Because even when we are silent, nonverbal communication works in full force. And just as the old adage says, once you say something, you can’t take it back. We make silent judgments of others all the time.

That person should go to hell. He looks fat in those pants. She wears too much makeup. Who raised this kid?

That internal dialogue happens whether we want it to or not. But as I’ve mentioned in the previous posts, it is possible to work on both your verbal and nonverbal communication skills. And even more importantly, it’s so necessary. The single best thing you can do to become better at both arenas is to work on your listening skills.

And that is going to be the next major topic we’ll focus on in another post. I don’t want to spend too much time today digging into it, but I will say this – The better of a listener you are, the less people will concern themselves with your verbal and nonverbal skills.

theories Summarized

When you learn to use your interpersonal communication skills effectively creative cuties, not only will you have excellent verbal and nonverbal communications down, but you will get more accomplished in life. I know that sounds like a quick fix, because it takes time, but you can expect a lot more discussion on this in future months. For now, I’m out of theories.


Like Waves Hitting The Sand (Non-verbal Communication)

People often use silence as a way to collect their thoughts, while exhibiting control over a situation. And for many generations past, the strong and silent type was a kind of man to be emulated. He was quiet because he didn’t want to dominate conversations with words, he did this with presence and quiet affirmations shown through physical expression. It made him appear aloof and powerful.

Which is probably why so many male characterizations in popular culture showcase exactly this kind of male figure. If I were to ask you what a strong and silent type looked like, I’m sure that you could list at least a half a dozen examples from movies, music, and films, and if I took a decent sample sized survey that number would expand indefinitely. For me, video games will always be a great source of fodder for this trope. I must’ve played more than my fair share of games until I finished university, and after that point, I kind of lost interest in the hobby.

Fortunately for this post, I happen to know just a little more than your average citizen when it comes to video games – through grace or burden I’ll never know, but I’ll take it as a positive. And with that knowledge comes pattern recognition.

I Like To Move It, Move It

While every video game needs a good and vocal bad guy, it also needs an even better good guy. One who is basically mute. Maybe this is to turn that hero into an every man, and help make his story into ours, because we feel his feelings and make up reactions for him as we play the game. Maybe it was simply a limit of technology. But either way… whenever I think of the strong silent type, my mind doesn’t run to James Bond or Johnny Cash. No, I think of heroes like Mario, Link, and even Samus (read: surprise twist, Samus is a woman).

These heroes are selfless, sure of themselves, and deemed credibile within their chosen field.

I should be careful though not to put on a display demonstrating silence being golden, because there are some downsides. Conversely, this type of approach also makes men (read: everyone) appear distant, evasive, and uncomfortable with their environment. This happens because deep voices and higher volumes generally indicate confidence. Even when we should know better; that not all loud and proud people are in the right automatically.

Some of it comes down to nonverbal communciation too. And so I’m just sitting here wondering, do you remember that first time when I talked about the importance of communication?

Let’s Get Physical

Today I want you to consider that the pitch, speed, tone and volume of your voice is just as important in communicating your position as is the word choices you make. And in case you didn’t already know, hand gestures, facial expressions, posture, stance and proximity all matter in communicating the idea(s) you have at hand.

On top of that… eye movement, physical contact, and your appearance factor into a conversation too.

You see dear readers, this is because nonverbal communication is a lot more than the meaning of language, it focuses on the behaviours associated with message delivery. Learning to read body language is huge in gaining additional information about the hidden meanings of verbal communication.

Which is why I think this short article on non-verbal confidence in the workplace might just get you started right.

I’m not expecting you to become an expert in the matter over night, but a short list never hurt either.

  1. Good eye contact.
  2. A confident handshake
  3. Effective gestures
  4. Dressing the part
  5. Authoritative posture and presence
  6. Appropriate facial expressions
  7. Initiating interactions
  8. Appropriate voice tone
  9. Giving your full attention
  10. Responding to others’ nonverbal cues

Again this is just a short list, so if you want more meat, continue through to the article I linked above, but really consider these things dear readers, you reveal much more of yourself through body language then you even know, so want not get a leg up on the competition?

theories Summarized

And now that we’ve essentially covered three of the basic types of communication, we only have one more to go. A personal favourite of mine – interpersonal communication. If you thought this last topic was interesting, just wait for the insights we have in store next week. And I’m out of theories for now.


I’m Not Listening (Verbal Communication)

I’ve I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, and I’ll probably say it a few more times for good measure.

Basic communication is essential, whether you are a painter, photographer, graphic designer, actor, musician or any other kind of creative professional. If you can become an expert of communication, then the sky is limit in terms of success with your business, hobbies or however you choose to pursue your art. Want to nail that audition? Communicate. Have to organize a meeting for a grant proposal? Communicate. Need to put time in at a trade expo and you want to gain some prospects? Communicate.

Just ask Descendents. They know.

We’ve covered it before, but there are four kinds of communication – written (I chose email as our example), verbal, non-verbal, and interpersonal.

Today we are going to focus on verbal communication and I’ll cite some specific examples from pop culture, and maybe one from my life, that demonstrate the importance of following etiquette as best we can. Now, granted, there have been countless books written on the topic of verbal communication alone, so we can’t expect to simplify the topic in one post, but I think this will be a great primer for anyone who needs some guidance. Whether you are well versed in the subject or merely a spectator.

Move Or Be Moved

Verbal communication, just like the three other forms of communication, requires the sender to convey needs, thoughts and feelings – feelings being what I personally think are central to a lot of communication problems. Conveying what you need can be just as difficult, but for many people it is even more difficult to express emotions in a healthy way. It’s not something which can be easily taught either

It seems as if emotions are either over-expressed in outbursts of anger and sorrow OR held back and expressed non-verbally.

This is why so many families fall into cyclical habits of rebuffing each other with the same arguments and literal arguments over and over again. Without having an alternative strategy to communicate, we persist at explaining our ideas, thoughts, and feelings, without making room for the other party to understand from their position.

When we are capable of emphasizing then dialogue opens up, otherwise the adage of rocks versus hard places presents itself. The Dark Knight sums it up perfectly in fact – within the context of the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, The Joker and Batman were always going to interlocked in perpetual battle because they couldn’t relate to each other. This also applies to the Batman mythos in general, but more importantly, it applies to those situations where people are at consistently at odds.

Missing You(r Point)

Effective verbal communication really comes down to clarity of speech, a calm and focused delivery, following conventional etiquette while simultaneously correcting for environment etiquette, and being polite and encouraging in dialogue. Simple right?

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Break-up, featuring the under-appreciated talents of Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston, then you are likely familiar with the scene where the very much mismatched Gary and Brooke finally have the relationship ending fight that leads to Brooke saying “I’m done.”

Yes, it’s tough to watch, because we’ve all been there at one time in our lives. Whether the male or female in the relationship (or masculine energy VS female energy for our non-hetero friends). I challenge you to watch the movie for the dynamic between the two before the break-up and immediately preceding the break-up, but before the movie falls apart into rom-com shenanigans.

Those kind of shenanigans.

The main point I want you to walk away with dear readers, is that as much as talking is important in a conversation, listening is far more valuable because it endears each party to the other, allows for a more thorough discussion, and limits conversations stoppers like judgment, self-centredness, derailing the topic, or ignoring the other speaker.

theories Summarized

All that said, no I didn’t leave you with a proper road map on verbal communication.

But I did warn you that this was a heavier topic then one post could cover. I fully expect to cover more tips and strategies for proper communication in coming months. Developing character and honing the correct life skills is absolutely essential in your communications, and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to run timotheories at all. This is a community based vision, and honouring differences of others through respectful discussion is key to that end.

Put these theories to work creative cuties, and you’ll see the positive results for yourselves.