Anger and frustration are natural emotions, but they’re often seen as unhealthy. Uncontrolled anger can cause physical symptoms, including high blood pressure and anxiety, as well as negative behaviours such as hysterical outbursts, acting or speaking aggressively towards people, or sending irrational (and irretrievable) texts and emails.
These behaviours aren’t acceptable in business, but that doesn’t mean feeling angry should be banned. In fact, feeling frustrated can actually be useful if these feelings are displayed in an appropriate way.
So how can anger be felt, expressed and used positively?
Firstly, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the anger, because denying emotion – any emotion (especially negative emotion) – can have harmful consequences for one’s mental and physical health. Suppressed anger is linked to an increased risk of coronary issues, and also increases the risk of having an emotional flare-up later on.
The next step in managing anger is to recognise that the emotion has been triggered. If someone annoys you, and that familiar feeling wells up inside – stop yourself right there, breathe and observe: “Oh, that’s anger creating a reaction in my body.” This step is also helpful in identifying where your boundaries are, and when they have been crossed. It tells you exactly where your ‘line’ is, which helps you anticipate when it might be triggered in the future.
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Next, ask yourself, “Why?” What is the reason you have been triggered by this particular comment/action/approach?
Dig deeper. Ask yourself, “Why?” again. And deeper still. “And why is that?” again.
A real realisation might be uncovered.
When responding to the person whose actions triggered your anger, own your feelings by using ‘I’ statements. For example, you might say: “When I’m harassed, I feel flustered and I’d really like it if we stepped away from the conversation right now”, as opposed to, “You are nothing but a bully and always do this to me.”
This makes a huge difference in helping to resolve the situation in the moment, and avoid triggers in the future.
Be assertive rather than aggressive – recognise that your needs must be communicated, while at the same time acknowledging the needs of others (as opposed to an aggressor who will often not recognise that the other person has needs).
Give it time
As with anything, managing anger takes practice: to recognise the triggers, to breathe and allow yourself to observe, and to consistently choose another way of responding.
For the grumpy pants out there who think this is too hard – take it from the rest of us: it’s only going to help your business if you help yourself.
And if this fails and you’re still angry? Go and punch a pillow, write in a journal or simply walk away from the client. Life’s too short to remain angry.
What are your tips for managing anger and using it constructively?