Anger – Demon or Opportunity?

Most people understand that anger can become destructive when people choose to act out in a manner which is violent. The fact that anger and violence are both often present in a situation does not automatically mean that the presence of one means the presence of the other.

Anger is a normal and natural emotion which results in a physical reaction to a threat whether real or imagined. When people allow themselves to experience their anger, the feeling is usually short-lived, yet problems occur when anger is seen as something to be avoided, and people suppress their feelings.

Anger is merely an emotion which gives you a choice of how to respond.

Appropriate handling of anger is an interpersonal skill which can be developed. Often we learn how to deal with anger by observing our parents or other significant people when we were young.

  • Were you taught to discuss your feelings or stuff them?
  • Did you grow up in an environment where anger was a destructive or a healthy emotion?

The problem with handling anger in an inappropriate way is it does nothing to resolve the situation and often makes things worse. Suppressing anger can result in physical illness such as migraines, hypertension, ulcers and even angina.

In addition, suppressing anger can result in you having a nuclear reaction to a firecracker event leaving those around you wondering why you got so upset over such a small incident.

Communication is irreversible and once you say something in anger, you cannot take it back. The paradox is that you are not reacting to the event that just happened but to the build up of scar tissue which has formed because you have not allowed yourself to deal with your anger productively in the past.

The key to dealing with anger in a useful way is to permit yourself to acknowledge the presence of anger and allow yourself to experience the physical sensations that go with it.

In addition, you must express your anger in a manner that meets your needs and the needs of the other people while maintaining respect. Focus on yourself and discuss your reaction to the situation in a manner that will help the other person understand your perception.

Watching the tone of voice you use is imperative because your tone helps the other person determine whether you are for or against them.

Sometimes it may mean taking a break from the situation to help you not respond in a manner which may render resolution impossible.

Another factor is whether the other individual is willing to discuss the circumstances. If they are not ready to work it out you may need to find another way to deal with your emotions.

In these situations, sometimes it is helpful to write your feelings down, and this will help you to vent without stuffing your feelings, or saying something you might regret. In any case, it is important that you find a healthy outlet for your feelings to avoid acting out in a manner which you will regret.

Author: Beth Sears

Workplace Communication, Inc is a culmination of over 30 years in the work world offering organizations multi-faceted approach to communication problems. Since 1985, Beth has been helping individuals and organizations to improve their organizational and interpersonal performance through improved communication, understanding and focus. She has taught for Cornell ILR for the past 18 years on a variety of human behavior topics and specializes in consulting, training, coaching and facilitation. She loves helping organizations to create a culture where people are engaged and feel acknowledged and understand how they fit in the overall goals of the organization. She also enjoys working with leaders to help them to dramatically improve their ability to communicate and develop relationships that work!

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