Anger management is a “hot” topic today because people often get angry and don’t know how to express and vent their anger in a healthy way. If you have been in a business meeting where someone has “blown up” or “shut down”, you know what I mean. It’s very uncomfortable when it happens and leaves most of us pretty unclear as to what to do next.
I want to be careful not to over-simplify anger management in business. At the same time, there are some simple rules or principles that can prepare us for what to do when anger surfaces.
Rule #1 – attack issues not people. I have recited that rule many times in sessions with clients, but anger is still almost always directed at one or more persons, not the underlying issues. Someone does something or doesn’t do something, and it makes us angry. Our two most common responses are to verbally attack or the opposite, to verbally shut down, stop communicating – give the silent treatment. Both are damaging to team health, so practice this response instead. At the moment you first feel yourself getting angry, say, “I feel myself getting angry because of what you did or didn’t do. Can we please take a moment to identify and solve the issue behind what you did or didn’t do?” Take the energy you would typically use to fuel your anger and apply it instead to identifying and resolving the underlying issues behind the behavior that provoked your anger.
Rule #2 – the angry parties own the issue. When someone angers us, we expect them to resolve the issue, so we’re not angry anymore, but that’s not the way things generally work. If it’s your anger, you own it and no one else can resolve it. You have three choices: live with it, end it or change it. You must decide. One thing is certain, if you don’t resolve it, anger will turn into bitterness and destroy you and your business.
Apply these two rules to convert unhealthy anger to positive energy that attacks and solves issues for the greater good of your business.