Book Review: Walking Through Anger
A New Design for Confronting Conflict in an Emotionally Charged World
Known to many as the cohost of the reality TV shows The Secret Life of Kids and Coaching Bad certified domestic violence counselor and anger management specialist Christian Conte has condensed his expertise into Walking Through Anger, a useful and realistic guide to conflict resolution. Conte’s approach hinges on the principle of Yield Theory: the idea that anger is best defused when we meet other people where they are, as opposed to where we would like them to be.
Walking Through Anger outlines the practical applications of Yield Theory’s three core actions: listening, validating, and exploring options. It’s a simple-sounding practice with infinite nuances and complexities. For example, to listen effectively, we need to pay attention not just to the content of someone’s speech but also to the overall attitude and emotion he or she is expressing, while validation involves keeping our feedback vague to avoid provoking a defensive reaction.
Conte goes on to explain the seven fundamental components of Yield Theory: acceptance, authenticity, compassion, conscious education, creativity, mindfulness, and nonattachment. In the interest of cultivating these qualities, he presents such exercises as compassion meditation and loving-kindness practice to expand one’s ability to see things from another person’s perspective, to avoid taking attacks personally, and to help guide others into a calmer state.
“It’s important to understand overall that Yield Theory is a matter of practice rather than of intellectual knowledge,” Conte notes, adding that the foundational aspects of Yield Theory are not steps to be followed in a linear order. “Instead, they might best be pictured as minerals that, when combined and interlocked, create a very strong and durable granite.”