Driving Results With Others: Anger Means Danger

 
Photo by  FuYong Hua

Photo by FuYong Hua

 
 

 

QUESTION

There are situations and people that set me off. What can I learn about that?

 

ANSWER

Anger is one letter short of danger. When we are angry we are reacting from our unconscious. We are not completely in control and unlikely to make the best choices.

The next time you are faced with a challenging person and tempted to lose your temper or give in to the temptation to react, take a moment to think about what you are doing.

 

 

Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

–Seneca, Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman

 

 

It is a hard task to maintain neutral equilibrium when we have had our feelings hurt, careers sabotaged, plans disrupted, and our lives impacted by challenge and change. Deep wounds can leave a lasting memory that we carry around with us. And, when we can identify a person who hurt us, we have a focal point for our angst.  Unless we can find the inner strength to forgive that person, we're likely to internalize our anger for years, even decades. Sometimes our pain can last a lifetime.

Anger turned inward results in depression, which impacts the health of our spirit and our bodies as well as our overall performance. Those are important enough reasons to learn how to create enough space for a considered response over giving in to immediate reactivity. Otherwise, we risk getting sucked up in a vortex of anger and turmoil.

To maintain openness is to maintain a certain sense of neutrality, where you can see both sides of a conflict, including your own. Don't let the "you or me" "us v them" tribalism swallow your civility. Don't succumb to the myth that being angry or indignant about an issue you care about is a sign of sophistication or complexity.

Awareness is key to attaining emotional equilibrium and its emotional equilibrium that gives you credibility.

Initial awareness is gained through reflection after an incident occurs. If we understand what the gap in our behavior is and know what it should be, we have a shot at catching ourselves in the act the next time. If we successfully catch ourselves in the moment, we get just enough time to make a different choice. When we catch ourselves enough times, we can spot a trigger coming rather than having it blindside us into rash reactivity. Seeing a trigger coming gives us even more time to choose a different reaction.

 

 
 

MORE THOUGHTS…

I realized that if my thoughts immediately affect my body, I should be careful about what I think. Now if I get angry, I ask myself why I feel that way. If I can find the source of my anger, I can turn that negative energy into something positive.

— Yoko Ono, Japanese-American multimedia artist, singer, songwriter and peace activist 

 

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.

— Aristotle, Greek philosopher

 

A man in a passion, rides a mad horse.

— Ben Franklin, American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States

  

Anger is one letter short of danger.

— Eleanor Roosevelt, American political figure, diplomat and activist, former First Lady of the United States 

 
 

 

REMEMBER

Emotions are contagious, like the flu. Encounters with anger (and that includes all its shades: irritation, frustration, annoyance, and the like) rarely end well for anyone involved. If someone is voicing their feelings, they are often looking for a place to park them. It’s ok to pause the conversation and come back to it later.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

If you think you are about to lose your patience because you are some shade of angry (frustrated, irritated or annoyed), slow down. Take a breath. Walk away. Think about your own reactions to the situation and the decisions you are about to make. It’s better to pause and reflect to determine a more thoughtful course of action.

GETTING REAL

Talk to a friend or trusted colleague about the consequences of taking action when you are irritated, annoyed, frustrated, or angry. How do they impact others? How do they impact your own emotional health?

FOR REFLECTION

If you keep a journal for your own development, write down your thoughts about the inevitable problems that result from anger that’s either expressed in inappropriate ways or held inside.

NEXT


To perform well while under pressure, we need to train our minds to work more effectively. Making the right decisions, whether that is hashing out how artificial intelligence will evolve or ensuring naval ships are ready on time takes practice.

Driving Results With Others: A pocket guide for learning on the job enables you with all the tools and tactics you need to make your interactions less stressful and more effective.