Anger Response Styles


This exercise increases the awareness that we have choices in how we respond when we are angry. We all tend to have a dominant response style when we are angry, and we want to increase our ability to make a choice in how we respond. It also introduces assertiveness.




  1. I draw the empty table on the board and list the 4 response styles on the top of the columns.
  2. I then fill in the table in a brainstorming style. (Students can call out their thoughts and I write them in the column.)
  3. First I go across the board, asking
    • "What behavior do you see when someone responds aggressively"
    • "What behavior do you see when someone responds passively"
    • "What behavior do you see when someone responds passive/agressive"
    • "What behavior do you see when someone responds assertively"
  4. Likewise, I ask What is good about each response style and what is bad about each style, filling in the chart.
  5. I ask them about the boundaries in each case. (When I am aggressive, I protect myself but at the expense of hurting others. When I am passive, I let others hurt me. When I am passive/agressive, everyone loses. When I am assertive, we set boundaries that respect everyone.)
  6. I then ask "When might you choose to use each style?" (When might it be good to act aggressively, passively, passive/agressively, assertively?)

I talk about assertiveness and how it creates a win/win; and that it sets good boundaries.

I conclude making the point that we have choices and we need to make a decision on how we respond when we get angry so we can effect the outcome that serves us best.

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