When Anger Gets the Best of Us
How do you express your anger; the two most common responses to anger are explosion or repression. In the workplace, we cannot explode each time we feel anger. In the workplace, we cannot repress all our feelings. Remember, anger is a natural reaction to life. Sometimes the smallest things trigger an angry response. Don’t let the anger get the best of you. Allow yourself to get the best of the anger.
How do you express your anger? I once had a woman in one of my workshops who said, “I never get angry.” Can you imagine that? How can we go through life and never feel anger? Anger is a part of the passion of living. There is nothing wrong with anger. What is wrong is when we pass our anger onto someone else. What is wrong is when we blame our angry feelings on ourselves or others. What is wrong is when we channel our anger in the wrong place. So, what can we do when we feel that nasty heat rise inside us? You’re minding your own business, not interfering with anyone and all of a sudden something happens, and your body tenses, the heat rises inside you, your heart throbs and out of your mouth comes. . . what?
The two most common responses to anger are explosion or repression.
Some people simply explode. All the anger erupts from them like lava from a volcano. Those standing in the way feel the burn and sometimes never recover from the outburst. People who explode like this usually find themselves in bad places. They can lose their jobs. They can get in bad fights. They suffer through a long and painful recovery because they often bruise and destroy relationships.
The second response to anger is repression. Some people take all those feelings and push them deep inside themselves. Fearing an explosion, they prefer to hide their feelings in a deep, dark corner. These people are equally dangerous to themselves and others. There’s just so much room inside us for our anger. If we keep tucking that anger away, one day we’ll run out of room. On that day, we could respond by turning our anger on ourselves in a violent way or by turning our anger on someone else. I once heard depression defined as “the anger within.”
Is there a third response to anger? In the workplace, we cannot explode each time we feel anger. In the workplace, we cannot repress all our feelings. Churchill said, “Speak in anger and you will deliver the greatest speech you will ever live to REGRET!” Whether you’re an explosive person or a person who represses your anger, you can learn to deal with anger in a more productive way. Before I give you some tips, let me suggest that the woman in my class who said she never felt anger might be in more danger than any of us who admit to our anger. Why? She’s in denial. All of us, even the most even-tempered among us, feel anger. The question is: what do we do with it so it won’t get the best of us?
Here are some tips:
· Recognize the symptoms of anger. Learn what happens to you when you feel anger. Once you recognize the symptoms, you will be more likely to control your anger.
· Admit your anger. Say it. You can say, “I’m really angry,” or “That makes me so mad.” Once you actually vocalize your anger, you’ve released it.
· Stay aware of your feelings. Don’t ignore the boiling inside or the throbbing in your head.
· Don’t blame others for your anger. Recognize that your anger belongs to you. Others do not make us angry. Anger is a response to someone’s behavior. It’s the behavior we abhor or causes us to feel anger, not the person.
· Find a fun way to release your anger. Some of my clients have ugly dolls that they beat up. Just knocking something on a desk as hard as you can will help you release your anger.
· Give your anger time to dissipate before you encounter others. Take a time-out.
· Take some slow deep breaths. Close your eyes and imagine a place you love. Hold onto that vision. Don’t allow the source of the anger to creep back into your mind.
· Find a trustworthy person to whom you can vent.
· Write a poison-pen letter. But, do not send it. This was a common practice of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. He’d pen letters to his incompetent generals. Later he’d destroy those letters. By writing the letters he not only vented, he began to see a more productive way to deal with the behavior that was causing his anger.
· When you’ve calmed yourself and allowed your anger to seep out of you in a manner where no one gets hurt, do something about what caused you to become so angry, particularly if the situation may recur. Take action.
· Detach yourself from the communication by using the Say It Just Right Model. The model will enable you to maintain focus without being absorbed by your feelings.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joan Curtis, EdD is CEO of Total Communications Coaching where she specializes in helping smart, capable professionals move ahead in their careers by becoming skilled communicators and savvy leaders.
Her new book, Managing Sticky Situations at Work: Communication Secrets for Success in the Workplacegives you everything you need to know to Say It Just Right!
How Well Do You Communicate? Take this free assessment and find out. http://www.totalcommunicationscoach.com/how_well_do_you_communicate.htm