For Those Times When You are Legitimately Angry

June 29, 2005


(a promise not kept, a dangerous behavior, a stubborn pet, etc.).

  • Immediately apply perspective. Is this life-threatening or career-ending? If it isn’t of that magnitude, then put the incident in the proper light.
  • Act rapidly only if you can prevent further harm. If the behavior is already past, then reflect on what action you should take.
  • Ask for insights. Go to a few people you trust who you know will provide candid feedback, and see if there is a commonality or pattern to their advice.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. You’re probably not to blame and, even if you could have prevented the problem, it no longer matters. Deal with the present and future, not the past.
  • Don’t generalize a specific. Failure to meet a commitment does not equate to difficulty dealing with women, and a poorly chosen word doesn’t mean that someone else is out to destroy your career.
  • Separate isolated incidents from repetitive patterns of behavior.
  • Act logically, not emotionally. Cool down. Leave your ego out of the decision making process. Take some time. Disagreements are usually about objective differences, but feuds comprise blind hatred caused by emotions run amok.
  • Learn to apologize, accept apologies, and get over it, especially within the family. A thrice-divorced man once asked how my wife and I could have avoided arguing through 30+ years of marriage.
  • His assumption was that, once you argue, things are never the same, which might just explain his personal divorce rate.
  • Create and/or identify your anger relief outlets. They may include walking the dog, reading some favorite literature, going to the movies, or working on a hobby. The outlet will channel energy and calm you.
  • Not recommended: driving, performing surgery, contact sports, or running heavy equipment.)
  • Look for a positive. Can you be seen as a peace-keeper or a problem solver? Are you now able to raise an issue that heretofore was off-limits?
  • Can you alleviate some stress? There usually is some silver lining.
  • Learn something. How can you avoid being in the same position of causing anger and pain? What’s the gift you’ve been given in terms of preventing this from happening to you or someone else again?

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