Everyone knows the feeling of anger. Who hasn’t experienced “seeing red” at least a few times in their life? What else do you know about anger? Try this quiz and see how you do.
1. True or False – Anger is a good warning signal letting you know that you need to take some sort of action.
2. True or False – Anger can be important to the survival of the species.
3. True or False – Anger is the same thing is disapproval.
4. True or False – Ladies don’t get angry.
5. True or False – You must release or discharge anger.
(Answers are at the bottom of the page.)
All of us experience anger and that is ok. What we do, or don’t do, with anger may be the problem. Anger can be expressed in five basic ways: suppression, open aggression, passive aggression, assertiveness, and dropping it.
Suppression involves holding anger inside in an unhealthy way. Someone engaging in suppression may try to “put on a good front” or pretend to feel no tension. Open aggression is taking a stand for personal worth, needs, and/or convictions at someone else’s expense. Open aggression may involve explosiveness, rage, intimidation, blame, bickering, criticism, or sarcasm.
While the name sounds better, passive aggression also occurs at the expense of someone else. It may be quieter and it also causes less personal vulnerability for the angry person. Assertive anger preserves one’s personal worth, needs, and convictions while considering the needs and feelings of others. In my opinion this is a true art form.
Finally, dropping your anger is also a possibility. It is possible to accept one’s inability to completely control circumstances and to recognize personal limits. You may realize that the anger is misplaced, ineffective, or out of proportion.
Changing your pattern of angry thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is not easy. Anger often involves so many automatic responses that just unraveling the real issue can be tough.
Unmanaged anger can be an incredibly destructive force. R. Brayton Bowen, as president of the Howland Group, estimated that there are as many as 18,000 workplace assaults each week. According to a Yale University study, the main factor in employee rage is a real or imagined slight by a supervisor or manager. Perceived lack of productivity by co-workers, tight deadlines, and heavy workloads were also identified. The study suggested that this underground chronic anger that is present in the workplace affects one-fourth of the working population. Businesses who address workplace stress and teach employees anger management skills find that the company’s bottom line improves based on increased productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced medical costs.
Anger doesn’t just impact employees and employers. School-aged children often have not learned effective anger management skills. A school in Staffordshire has implemented a program designed to prevent the aggressive behaviors commonly recognized in the school system with good results.
Intimate relationships can trigger aggressive responses if anger is not tended to appropriately. Domestic violence, rape, verbal assault, sarcasm, and arguing all stem from anger. Most people agree that this type of angry behavior is ineffective at best and, at worst destructive.
So what can you do? First, recognize the source of the anger. When boiled down, it will probably relate to one of these:
- Interruption of plans or goals
- Implications of non-compliance
- Concern about injury
- History repeating itself
- Personal peeves
You see, none of those is really about the other person. They are all about you and how you feel.
Second, take appropriate action, not to make the other person suffer, but to solve the real problem. This may involve more communication, more planning, less mind-reading, and better self-care.
Anger management classes can be extremely effective. Invest some time and effort and sign up for one. Do you work in a pressure-cooker environment? Ask your boss to bring in a consultant to help the entire team deal with anger more effectively. It would be a win-win situation. Is your child displaying problems with anger? Take a look at the anger-management role model you may be providing and make the appropriate changes.