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Who's Angry?

  • April 12, 2022
  • Written by Community Futures Meridian

Controlling Your Temper When People Tick You Off:

We’ve all been there; a customer is being unreasonable, a supplier has messed up an order, an employee is completely out of line, and we are about to blow a fuse. In the moment, we may even realize that losing our rage is not going to make things better, but heck, it might release some pressure. Although anger is a natural emotion, in the final analysis, when did losing our cool ever turn out well?

If you are one of the significant majority who is fed up to the back teeth with COVID, politicians, taxes, a compromised supply chain, employee shortages, gas prices, people who don’t think the way you do – it probably won’t take a lot for someone to push the right buttons for you to lose your temper. The question is, what can you do to keep control? Here are a few techniques you can employ to keep on the right side of raging lunatic.

Identify why you are angry. You are frustrated, angry, about to boil over, but why? If someone is annoying you, what is it they are doing that is causing you to lose your temper? Anger is a secondary emotion; something has caused the anger. Try to understand the primary emotion that caused you to be angry. Are you reacting to someone’s angry approach – as with a complaining customer, perhaps? Are you feeling embarrassed and therefore mad at yourself? Is someone taking advantage of you, being condescending, or making you look stupid? Has someone ripped you off? Often anger is a defense mechanism.

Deescalate your feelings. Take a few seconds to recognize what you are feeling; the sensation behind the anger before your frustration becomes physical and erupts into the world. If you can catch that emotional reaction early enough and own it, you will be more than halfway to managing any situation in a healthier way. Gaining perspective is the golden key to de-escalation. In those few seconds, tell yourself, this confrontation is not personal. Even if the anger is directed at you, the chances are that the person causing your blood pressure to escalate is reacting to a situation – not because they don’t like your face. Of course, assuming you are not dealing with someone threatening you with physical harm, in which case the best course of action is to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

Let your emotional state subside before reacting to any confrontation, whether or not you are the angry one in the situation. In most cases, what you hear is not an attack; there is no real threat; it is information, although probably delivered in a passionate manner. If you can stabilize your emotional state, you will be able to develop a more productive strategy to deal with the situation.

Listen. Nothing defuses a confrontation faster than when someone starts listening. As a bonus, active listening helps you keep the lid on what you’d really like to unload on the buffoon in front of you. It allows you to begin to understand their point of view and realize they may have a point after all; in fact, you might start to regret thinking of them as a buffoon in the first place. If they are angry, acknowledge their anger. Often people just need to vent. By being calm, you will set the scene and possibly change the reality. By reframing the disagreement and listening to someone vent, your own anger will often dissipate. There’s nothing like seeing someone fuming and out of control to help you realize how ineffective it is to lose your cool.

Redirect. Once you are in control of your emotions, you can redirect your energy to finding a win-win solution to the situation. Understanding the cause of your anger will help you reframe the narrative in your head, dissipate the negative emotions you are feeling, and allow you to focus on an equitable way forward.

For most of us, anger is a natural and manageable emotion; it comes and goes and is not a debilitating problem. Almost everyone gets angry from time to time, except perhaps for Buddhist monks and others who have managed to train their minds to serve the greater good. Hopefully, this article can open a conversation about how we might best deal with losing our temper in our work life. If you struggle with managing your anger, we encourage you to seek help from anger management professionals.

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