When you’re having a conversation with someone and you feel an intense emotion, you name it and assign a number. Don’t worry about figuring out where it fits on a scale, the first number that pops into your head will be the right number.

Then, whoever you’re speaking with will be able to communicate with you. If you scream “ten!” then that person knows you’re triggered and now is not a good time for debate. If you say, “two,” then the person knows you are only mildly affected and the conversation can continue. Various numbers in between will guide the listener to use empathy or help in other ways.

The conversation would go something like:

“I’m angry because you’re late again.

“How angry are you?”

“I’m at a six.”

That gives you a little information to know if you should continue talking, give your partner space, or if they are ready to approach with empathy.