Why anger in allyship is counterproductive

I get it. Witnessing others be mistreated, oppressed, and be denied their human rights is hard. It’s frustrating to see how the systems or the behaviours of others are doing this but it seems no one else can see. And I know this makes you angry. Just imagine how frustrating it is for marginalised people and how angry they are.

The truth is, in most cases uncontrolled anger in communication is not effective and in many cases, it’s counterproductive to the advancement of marginalised peoples’ treatment in our society.

This is not to invalidate the emotion of anger. It’s important, it’s real and it has a powerful place but the best place for its expression usually isn’t in a conversation with the intention of changing people’s attitudes, behaviours, or systems in regards to inclusion and positive social innovation.

First, let me say these 3 things…

1

I am speaking to the allies here. If you are a marginalised person and your want to express the emotions of your oppression I support you in expressing it in any way that feel right for you.

2

If you’re an ally, it’s not your right to be angry, that, is a privilege in itself.

3

If you’re an ally and a marginalised person is expressing their frustration and anger. Withness them. Support them. Make sure they are heard and don’t overshadow them or become louder than them. Your role as an ally is a supportive role and not a lead role.

Now, that’s been said. Why uncontrolled anger is often counterproductive in communication is because of psychology and physiology.

Psychology

A very broad overview of the psychology of it is, our identity, how we behave and what we believe about ourselves and the world are based on our core beliefs and core values. Most of us believe we are ‘good’ people, that we are kind and caring humans. When someone implies that we are “bad” or are unkind, this conflicts with our core beliefs that are deep within our subconscious. This is supper triggering and confronting for that person to take in. Then you add a layer of anger to that conversation and the persons brain goes from feeling triggered and uncomfortable to now feeling threatened and unsafe. This is when the physiological side of it kicks in.

Physiology

Their brain reacts and activates the amygdala which is the fight, flight, freeze or appease center of the brain. When this occurs, the brain’s capacity for reasoning is shut down. At this point, they are incapable of understanding what you’re saying or changing the way they see the situation. Their primary concern is their mental or physical safety. Because of this perceived threat to their safety, they most like will not engage in conversation about this topic with you again, which means they are now stuck in their way of thinking or being.

Effective communication

Effective communication is most effective when the conversation is respectful and calm (even if it’s hard). We need to make sure their capacity to reason is possible, they have time to process the information, and it’s delivered in a way that are would be inclined to engage in further discussions about it with you.

Remember, positive social innovation for a more inclusive world is an ongoing conversation, not a single statement.

After reading this, you think you might want support on how to have effective communication as an ally, come check out the Inclusion Creators Collective. It’s the membership space I hold for business owner allies who want to be active in supporting and creating a more inclusive world that’s been dissolved of oppression and oppressive systems. Psst. Use the coupon code founder99 to get it for $99 AU every month (save $151 every month for a whole year).

And if you’d rather work 1:1 with me, learn more about the Collective or how I can support you, book a free 15min clarity call with me here.

Until next time, I thank you for your commitment to your allyship.

Inclusion, Equity & Diveristy Business Coach

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