Anger Management

Don't let your anger get the best of you. Wavebreak Media Ltd / 123RF

My husband's colleague received a critique of an article he had submitted for publication in a professional journal. The article received a conditional acceptance, meaning that revisions were required for final approval. The review angered the writer and he fired off an angry email to the editor. Obviously he had not given much thought to this action or the result of it -- the editor is requiring the article go through the review process again and the editor has refused to have the angry writer remain as the corresponding author.

What causes a person to react in such a self-destructive way and how can we keep ourselves from doing so? First a look at anger and what it is.

What is Anger?

Anger is an emotion. It is a reaction to a real or perceived threat. Our natural response to this emotion is rage. Physiologically, our heart rate speeds up. We may feel our cheeks become flushed and jaws clench. Some of us respond to the feeling of anger by slamming doors, confronting the person who we perceive to have caused our anger, or in this age of speedy computer technology, firing off an angry email. Those who easily fly off the handle are usually aware of this tendency and should take steps to react differently to adverse situations.

Why Control It?

At the least, anger can cause hurt feelings. It can also make us less productive at work by causing stress which in turn leads to illness and absenteeism. In severe situations, anger can spark physical violence.

We increasingly hear of instances of employees "losing it." Workplace violence has been on the rise in recent years. It is important to diffuse your anger before it goes too far. This is especially true in the workplace, where losing your temper can result in termination. When anger turns violent, you may find yourself facing legal action.

It is no surprise that anger can get out of hand. Anger blinds us to all but the focus of that anger. Ever heard the expression "I was so mad, I couldn't see straight." We must learn to use the energy created by our anger in a positive way. Rather that letting it get the best of us, we can channel our anger to make our needs known. That means turning our anger into assertion, not aggression.

How to Manage It

When faced with a situation that angers us, it is important to be proactive in dealing with it. Rather than let the anger get the best of us, we must get the best of it. We must take steps to get our anger under control. If that isn't possible, we must be able to determine that and walk away if necessary.

Dealing With The Anger of Others

Anger begets anger, which leads to conflict. When faced with another's wrath, it is a good idea to know how to deal with it. We must keep it from going further. In the workplace we are sometimes faced with hostile customers. It is vital to remember that, although a customer's tirade may be directed at you, the object of his or her emotion is probably the organization which you represent.

If you are a manager, you may also be forced to deal with the anger of your subordinates.

Again the object of anger may be your organization. You would be wise to determine its cause and defuse it before it turns violent.

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