My neighbor came charging across the street. His eyes bulged out, and his fists clenched as he came screaming into my yard, “Why the *&^%$ did you call the cops on me?”

“Because you cannot keep your dogs from barking, and the entire neighborhood is fed up with it,” I said in as quiet a voice as I could, hoping to calm him down. It did not work. He kept yelling at me and threatened my life.

From inside the house, my wife saw this was turning nasty, so she called the police. They arrived within minutes and calmed down the neighbor.

Traffic jams, rude customers, unkind co-workers, critical employers, ungrateful children, and an insensitive mate can each make you mad; some, with minimal effort. How you express your anger will determine whether these essential relationships will bloom or wilt, strengthen or weaken,

There are six common ways to express anger: BLOW OUT, STRIKE OUT, FAKE OUT, SNUFF OUT, PULL OUT, and SPEAK OUT.

BLOW OUT! For many years, my preferred method of expressing discontent with people and situations was to blow a fuse. I would explode, scream at everyone, and curse everything nearby, all without a moment’s warning. The bad news was it was ugly. The good (not so bad) news was it was brief—calm returned once the storm passed by, yet, like a tornado, it damaged only those in its path.

If you use BLOW OUT to express anger, you have already done and said some pretty stupid things—many that have had long-term negative impacts on the people you love the most. Know this: Everyone around you is afraid of you. They do not want to see you explode and will do what they can to keep it from happening, including taking advantage of every chance they have to avoid being with you for any length of time. Your BLOW OUT problem is not everyone else’s problem; it is yours. Get control of your temper. You are an adult now; you no longer have to act like a three-year-old.

STRIKE OUT! Some people become aggressive when they are angry. Road rage is the result of STRIKE OUT anger. Someone cuts you off in traffic and BANG! Your hands grip the steering wheel until your knuckles turn white, and you curse heaven and earth while you step on the gas because you are going to teach that so-and-so what driving is all about.

This kind of belligerent anger comes from the presupposition that you are almost perfect, and everyone else is an idiot. You think you should always get what you want, and you will stomp on anyone who gets in your way. You will intimidate, humiliate, manipulate, and castigate just to make sure you get your way. Then to top it off, you blame the guy who made you angry.

What to do about it? Get a life. The world does not revolve around you. You are not always right; in fact, your STRIKE OUT behavior is proof you may be a much bigger idiot than the guy in the next car or the people who share your home. Stop making so many unrealistic demands on other people and take a deep breath. When something nasty happens to you, smile, don’t snarl, laugh, don’t curse.

FAKE OUT! The FAKE OUT way of dealing with anger is used by people who think they have to be nice all the time, so they try to FAKE OUT others by repressing their anger and not dealing with it (denial). This is the “peace at any price” way. If you employ this method of anger expression (or lack of it), you will go through life frustrated by your false face, and you will seldom have your needs met. You will allow people to walk all over you for the sake of momentary tranquility.

You need to take a risk and tell the person who causes you to become angry about how they impact your life. When you keep your anger inside, you create not only relational problems but serious physical problems as well.

SNUFF OUT! Here I’m talking about people who, on the one hand, act as if everything is fine while beneath the surface they seethe with resentment. If someone makes them angry, they SNUFF OUT (repress) their real feelings and relegate them to their quiet, restrained inner self where they churn and burn, agitate and exasperate.

Psychologists call these people “passive-aggressive.” They appear passive while they think aggressively. Their aggressiveness, however, is not usually expressed directly. It is displayed subtly and indirectly by stubbornness, procrastination, cynicism, or the intentional failure to do requested tasks. For example, someone who uses SNUFF OUT to express their anger will create unusual delays in getting ready for a party they do not want to attend. It is their quiet way (passive) of expressing their rage (aggressive).

This kind of behavior harms almost everyone, especially the one practicing it. If you SNUFF OUT your anger, you will undermine your most valuable relationships, and it will prevent you from taking the kind of action necessary to solve real and present problems. It can impact you both personally and professionally.

How to deal with it? Convince yourself that it is OK to be angry and that it is even more OK not to allow others to ruin your life with their negative and nasty behavior. If you are being mistreated, speak out! Get in the habit of gently expressing your anger, so others do not take advantage of you.

PULL OUT! Some people prefer to avoid anger altogether and just walk away, so they PULL OUT. They escape from the people or the situation that causes them grief, but they never resolve the conflict. Are those who PULL OUT not angry? Of course, they are, but they won’t admit it. They are probably mad most of the time because their needs are never met. Many turn the irritation against themselves, and some suffer depression and even severe physical ailments.

Anger avoiders need to learn to get in touch with this genuine emotion. They need to learn to be assertive in dealing with others. They must secure a proper view of themselves and their place in this world; they must correct their mistaken beliefs about anger.

What is your preferred way to express anger? Do you BLOW OUT (scream, rant and rave), STRIKE OUT (become aggressive), FAKE OUT (make others think you are not angry, so no one gets upset), SNUFF OUT (hide your anger while you seethe and boil inside), or do you PULL OUT (leave when situations get tense)?

As Dr. Phil would ask, “So how’s that working out for you?” Not so good, right—none of those ways of dealing with anger work very well over the long haul. The best way to deal with anger is to learn how to effectively SPEAK OUT your anger without shouting, cursing, complaining, hiding, punching, seething, or running.

In Part 2, I will use S-P-E-A-K as an acrostic for the appropriate expression of anger.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Ron Ross is the author of nine books, a speaker, and the co-founder of Powerful Seniors, a movement to help seniors pass on a legacy of love to their descendants. He lives in Loveland, Colorado