Anger Management

Ever get angry? Of course, we all do! Even though there is the risk that this state of emotional agitation will lead to destructiveness, sometimes it’s healthy to get riled up.

If channeled in the right direction, anger can help us accomplish goals and push us to set our sights higher even if we are just trying to prove someone wrong. It can alert us when there is a problem that requires attention. It prompts us to defend ourselves, or others, when wronged. It prevents us from passively accepting unjust situations.

Some great leaders have been able to transform their anger to create social change. One might argue that anger is the flip side of love. It’s a love (and desire) for truth that when channeled in the right direction can ultimately lead to doing the right thing. But to get these positive results, we must first learn how to constructively deal with our own anger, as well as the anger of others. 

What is anger?
Mostly, we are most aware of its destructive power. Anger can lay ruin to our peace of mind and damage important relationships. Its physical manifestations – faster breathing, racing pulse, the hot rush of blood, a spike in adrenaline – depletes our energy reserves and places stress on our heart, nerves and respiratory functions.

Transform anger
With these techniques, you can work toward transforming anger into something positive:

  • A famous quote attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca states that “The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” Before doing or saying anything, try counting to ten. This will give your body just enough time to cool down from the adrenaline spike that comes with anger. If you can, wait a day before acting on an angry impulse.
  • One might also say that the greatest remedy for anger is prevention. Recognize the stresses that lead to anger, and deal with those stresses before they have time to develop.
  • Take a time out – 20 minutes, an hour or an afternoon.
  • Take slow, deep breaths to help calm your mind and body.
  • Try switching perspectives. Think about the situation from the other side. This practice of empathy may help you understand the situation better.
  • Be honest and straightforward about your feelings, but communicate them in a non-hostile way. Instead of using accusations, stick to expressing your feelings.

Angry people
Dealing with angry people can be just as challenging as dealing with your own anger – and sometimes you have to do both at the same time. In certain situations, dealing with an angry person can be fairly non-threatening. In other situations, your physical well-being could be at risk.

Try these techniques to calm an angry person:

  • Try to slow things down by speaking very slowly and softly, especially if the other person is yelling. This will help calm the other person and keep you calm as well.
  • Ask questions and listen to the answers. Paraphrase the answers back to the person. This will let them know that you are paying attention.
  • If an apology is requested, apologize even if you feel there is nothing you did wrong. An apology may help calm the angry person.
  • Acknowledge their anger, but don’t validate it. Saying something like “I can see you are angry” let’s the other person know you understand their emotion.
  • Ask what you can do to make things better. If it’s something you can do, do it.
  • You can talk about how the facts are perceived, but do not accuse the other person of being wrong. Keep your distance and refrain from touching the angry person, even if your impulse is to console.
  • Do not defend yourself. Just listen. A lot of really angry people just need to vent and feel like they’ve been heard.

So the next time you’re confronted with the ugly emotion of anger, stop and think how you can use the techniques above to diffuse the situation. Who know, maybe you can even turn it around to your advantage.

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