The difficulty of metacommunication

It sometimes happens that I’m tense or upset because of something that’s going on, and I talk with someone who isn’t connected to that something, and I behave badly. I get irritable and impatient and snappish and argumentative, and I don’t phrase things carefully.

And sometimes while I’m doing that, I know that I’m doing it and I even know why I’m doing it. But somehow, explicitly communicating about why I’m doing it is more than I can manage.

I’m trying to get better about that. I just got into an online argument at work (about a technical issue) that I caused to be more heated than it needed to be, and after several rounds of my overreacting to what the other person was saying, I finally explicitly said that (a) I appreciated what the other person was trying to do, and (b) I’m on edge about the active-shooter situation and thus not communicating well. And I stepped away from the computer to calm down.

But I sure do find it hard to say that kind of thing when I get into this frame of mind. I’m not sure why; it seems like obviously the right thing to do. But somehow hard for me.

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