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You made your lady mad. You did something to tick her off. And when you try to “fix” the situation, you make her more upset….you feel you can’t win. But you CAN stay afloat. Here’s how.
Many women have a process to their anger just as we see with grief. When one is grieving they go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. So with anger there can be stages as well. As your lady goes through these stages, never use the word “upset”. It appears as an accusation, and may put her on the defensive. Use the terms “concerned”, “troubled”, “hurt”. So rather than “You look upset” (which isn’t very flattering by the way), say “You look concerned about something..what is it?”.
In communication, we use the three E’s: Engage, Educate and Enlist. We engage the person either by a change in pitch, silence, telling a joke, flashing lights on a billboard. Then once we’ve captured their attention we educate them (how we feel, what we’re selling). Once we’ve educated them, we can enlist them to do what we want (return my call next time, buy the product, tune in next week). These three E’s are used time and time again by parents of small children, advertisers, salespeople, and of course partners.
So there’s a chance your lady may be using the three E’s while she’s angry.
If you understand the phases your lady may be going through during anger, you can reach a resolution more easily. Here we go:
She may isolate herself during this phase to put together her thoughts and arguments. Do not try to interrupt this phase. If you say “what’s wrong?” prematurely, you may get a “Nothing’s wrong…leave me alone!” response. Remember she is trying to collect her arguments.
You know the “verbal phase” is coming and my want to try to control when this occurs. Right before the game comes on, or before you want to go to sleep doesn’t work for you. So you may be at a loss when it comes to choreography. However, once she surfaces and starts to circle you like a shark circling their prey, then you say “Honey what’s wrong?” This will allow an immediate launch of the verbal phase
Here is where all her arguments spew out. Don’t expect one issue. We women are great at buttressing our argument with supportive arguments. Let her finish. Do not interrupt but maintain eye contact. Keep nodding to a minimum because an insincere or reflex nod could anger her. She will stop eventually, she has to. She only has a finite number of arguments. If she begins to repeat let her do it once and slowly start to speak. What should you say? Say “I hear you.” Don’t admit guilt if you’re innocent but make sure she knows she’s been heard.
She takes a breath, and looks at you. This is the most crucial phase…..will you stumble, saying “Crazy say what?” or will you choose surviving? You can survive this, but here’s how.
She will not want you to debate her arguments. What she will want immediate validation of her feelings on why she’s upset, so you can give her that initially.
“I understand why you feel this way”
“I’m sorry you’re hurt” (never say “upset”, never.)
“I never meant to hurt you but the reason I __________, was because I ____________. Hurting you was the last thing I wanted and I should have gone about this differently.”
While she’s in the argument phase, hopefully you thought of some solutions. If the verbal phase is too quick you may not have enough time to formulate your answer. Remember you will not be able to say “I’ll get back to you”. You will need you give your response STAT because before you know it you are entering the solution phase .
The Solution Phase
Now you don’t want to go through this nightmare all over again, so gain control of the situation and say the following:
“To avoid you getting hurt in the future, how I do this differently?”
Give her the power to help make the solution. And if she says “I don’t know”, you offer a solution. Rumor has it that women don’t want solutions but just want to vent. Not true. She wants to know you listened, understand and will change your actions (the three E’s again: engage, educate and enlist).
“Can you forgive me?” Put this on her and she will want to take the high road and deign to forgive you. Give her hugs, love and make her appreciated.
Whew……..you did it.
Men, by the way, are so much easier. They leave when they’re mad, and come back when they found their own solution. If they say to their lady “You hurt me”, she may answer “What??!!! YOU were hurt??!! I was the one hurt…….you know what, I can’t talk to you right now….go away!” and ironically the 4 phases start again. This is why most men just say “I’m good……I’m good……….