I have yet to meet anyone who does not get angry from time to time. There is nothing wrong with feeling anger but if you want to have effective, supportive relationships; managing anger is critical. Managing anger is not just important for your relationships with others, it is essential for your relationship with yourself. Anger is often a result of distorted thinking and can be a major contributor to stress and bad health. I find that there are two key areas when managing anger- managing the situation when it happens, and learning from the situation to prevent it occurring again.
Last week was one of the most stressful weeks that I have experienced in my business. There were two situations which went badly wrong for me. One of them required some effort to find the right person to deal with the situation, while the other involved what I felt was an unacceptable level of service from one of my service providers. I felt a great deal of anger about the whole situation but thankfully, I was able to use the tips provided below to manage my anger and deal with the situation more constructively. Over the weekend, I have reviewed the events of the week and determined what I need to change to avoid a repeat. While last week was stressful, I realise that I have gotten better at managing my anger and I have learned valuable lessons.
8 Tips for managing anger
These 8 tips will prove useful when you are managing your anger. You will be able to manage the situation more amicably and learn valuable lessons which will improve your relationships, reduce your stress and help to improve your quality of life.
1. Understand why you’re angry
Some people try to pretend that anger is a useless emotion and should always be viewed as a bad thing. This simply is not true. The first step to is to managing anger understand that anger is a natural response when you perceive a threat or danger. Rather than dismiss the anger, it is important that you take the time to understand the source of your anger. When you take the time to examine the perceived threat or danger, and determine how realistic and threatening it really is, you can then choose the appropriate level of response. You are now managing your anger rather than allowing your anger to manage you.
2. Respond don’t react
The biggest obstacle to managing anger is that you often react to the situation without thinking. Reactions are based upon reflex and behaviourism. This assumes that there is a one size fits all solution. Of course, each situation is different which is why you must take the time to examine the situation and choose the most appropriate response. Where as a reactions is impulsive; a response is well considered, measured and appropriate.
3. Take yourself out of the situation
A lot of anger is caused by stressful situations. As the stress builds, your anger also grows. As you get angrier, your thinking becomes more irrational and in turn your stress increases further. This can be an endless and vicious cycle.
As Einstein said, you will not solve a problem with the same mindset that created it. Therefore, it is imperative that you remove yourself from the situation; reducing the perceived danger, reducing your stress levels and freeing your mind to think the whole thing through. Then you can determine the most appropriate response.
4. Remember that you are choosing your response
If you are angry, it is important to remember that you have chosen your response to the situation. It may have been an impulsive reaction but it is still your choice. More importantly, even if you have reacted swiftly in anger, it is your choice to remain angry. You can choose to remove yourself from the situation, or attempt to see things from the other person’s point of view. There are many things that you could do to the change the situation.
When you are angry, it is easy to try and force the other person to change their stance but that is not within your control. Your thoughts, your words and your actions are within your control and by changing them, and choosing more wisely you can also influence the other person to change too. Managing anger requires that you take responsibility for yourself and acknowledge that if you are going to change the situation, you must start by changing yourself.
5. Remember that belief does not equal reality
No matter how much or how strongly you believe something, that does not mean that is true. When you are angry, it can be difficult to see things from the other person’s perspective. However, the mere attempt to understand the other person’s viewpoint is often enough to diffuse even the most hostile situation. As human beings, we understand that we will not always agree. We are usually able to accept when things do not go our way, as long as we feel that we have had a fair hearing.
Two people, who do not understand each other, will never solve a dispute. When you find yourself in an argument, seek first to understand the other person’s argument. When you do this, it will be a lot easier to make yourself understood.
6. Ensure that you anger is proportionate to the situation
Anger can be very useful in so far as it lets you know what you are, and are not, prepared to accept. When you feel anger, you know that something needs to change. A large part of managing anger is identifying and making those changes. If communicated effectively, your anger can improve the quality of your relationships by letting others know the standards that you expect. However, anger must be proportionate to the situation.
7. Distinguish between situational and internal anger
When your anger arises due to a specific situation, the anger tends to pass quickly as the situation gets resolved. This anger, as long as it is managed appropriately, is normal and healthy. The longer the anger lasts; the more likely that the source of the anger is your own thinking. You may need to examine your own demands, expectations and beliefs. Your thinking may be distorted and unrealistic e.g. if you have unrealistic expectations of others, they will never be able to live up to those expectations and as a result, you will consistently experience anger in your dealings with others.
Managing anger always involves managing yourself but in the case of long-lasting internal anger, it requires even more effort.
8. Examine the value of the anger
When I worked in New Zealand, there was one particular customer whom I just could not cope with. There were times when I wanted to exchange a few choice words with her. I could feel the anger build but my boss, Dan, had a great question which he used to ask me at those times:
‘Will that get you the outcome you are looking for?’
What an excellent question to be asked when you are angry. It forces you to think about what you are actually trying to get from the situation and the answer is rarely a fight. When you are angry, a great question can interrupt your negative thinking and force you to think clearly. Once the pattern of negative thinking has been broken, you are able to work towards a more effective solution.
Anger should not be feared. It helps you to identify situations that need to change. Managing anger is an essential skill in modern life. With so much going on, it can be difficult to keep on top of things. It’s easy to get angry when things do not go your way. Rather than feel guilty or vengeful; focus your energy on managing your anger and learning from the situation. Managing anger effectively allows you to identify the changes which need to be made, making improvements in your working and personal lives. The 8 tips, outlined above, will provide you with strong guidelines for managing anger. Next time you feel angry, implement these tips and see the improvements