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CHAPTER 6Dealing WithYour Own Anger

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6. Dealing With Your Own Anger

Anger is one of the most difficult emotions to explore, so congratulations on completing the self-assessment.

Perhaps you’re one small step closer now to understanding your own anger.

If you think that you have problems with chronic anger—if you have repeatedly harmed others directly or indirectly with your anger or if others have observed that you have a violent temper—you should consider the help of a psychotherapist. However, even with the assistance of a professional (or someone whom you trust deeply and who knows you well), ultimately it is you who must evaluate and address your anger. Many people go through their entire lives without ever examining their deep feelings rigorously and honestly.

All of us need to do this, though.

Six-Step Process for Managing

Your Anger

Once you’ve grappled with your feelings, the next challenge is managing your anger by following these steps:

1. Avoid anger.

2. Calm yourself physically.

3. Think logically.

4. Express your feelings appropriately and effectively.

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CHAPTER 8 Dealing With Anger in Your Organization or Team

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Dealing With Anger in

Your Organization or Team

IF YOU ARE IN A POSITION of organizational or team leadership, you should continually assess the workplace to identify its strengths and weaknesses. This should include the tracking of anger. We’ve discussed the high costs that an organization or a team can incur if anger is poorly managed. And we know that anger is unavoidable because the workplace involves complex relationships, high stakes, significant pressure, and many forces beyond our immediate control. While it can be difficult to manage anger in ourselves and others, dealing with anger in organizations and teams can pose our greatest challenge, especially if the anger is pervasive and derived from systemic causes.

To get an idea of the state of anger in your organization or team, complete the assessment on the next page. It will bring you a step closer to understanding what role anger is playing in your organization or team. If you find that anger is a significant problem, you must take

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CHAPTER 5 Focus on the Source

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5. Focus on the Source

While people may differ in the specifics of what makes them angry, the causes usually have one common denominator: interpersonal dynamics—relationships between and among people. Every person has a basic need to value him- or herself and to feel valued by others. Yet when people’s self-esteem is threatened, they’re reluctant to admit it, even to themselves.

Some leading psychologists argue that anger is driven by primary emotions that attack self-esteem; these include feelings of betrayal, disapproval, deprivation, exploitation, frustration, humiliation, manipulation, restriction, and threat. Such emotions can be traced to any of a wide range of causes, from broad contextual circumstances to highly personal impulses. We may categorize the causes into five troublesome areas:

1. Anger at the system

2. Perceived inequity

3. Blocked goals

4. Divergent values

5. Unequal power relations

1. Anger at the System

Today many factors beyond our control create a broad context more likely to produce anger. In our highly interdependent and interconnected global economy, events halfway around the world can come knocking on our door and make us feel threatened and insecure.

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CHAPTER 3 The Benefits of Anger in the Workplace

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Managing Anger in the Workplace

➥ EXERCISE: Case Example

Directions: Read the case example below and then consider the questions that follow it.

Tim went into a performance-appraisal meeting expecting news of a healthy pay raise from his boss. He had been integral to a software-product team that had persevered through difficult circumstances to deliver a high-quality, highly marketable product. That the delivery had been several days over the promised deadline seemed negligible to Tim; the software already looked like it would be a major success.

However, at the meeting, his boss informed him that the company was being strict about deadlines. The team’s late delivery thus meant he would not receive much of a raise. The boss was apologetic but stuck to the company guidelines, arguing that there were several points at which the team could have taken action to get the product out on time.

TIM WAS FURIOUS. He had worked many long days and nights to ensure the product would be a success. Now that devotion and hard work was to be overlooked in deference to a bureaucratic deadline? It was intolerable!

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CHAPTER 4 Diagnosing Anger

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Managing Anger in the Workplace

each “patient,” anger may be repressed or expressed; and if it is expressed, it may be expressed directly or indirectly.

The Over- and Under-Expression of Anger

Again, in thinking about anger and the problems that it causes in the workplace, we tend to focus on people who over-express their anger by behaving aggressively.

However, as mentioned earlier, people who under-express anger pose an equally important problem. In some cases, such people are not even aware of their anger. In other cases, they feel anger but express it in subtle ways. Perhaps they don’t want to seem out of control or they’ve been taught that shows of anger are bad and can only make a situation worse. Perhaps they work someplace where anger is tacitly forbidden, where people who express anger are shut down by others, especially in a work-group situation. Or maybe they’re what psychologists refer to as “anger-in” types.

Researchers have long made a distinction between anger-out types and anger-in types. Anger-out types tend to experience intensely angry feelings and overexpress those feelings in hostile behavior, such as door slamming, yelling, and throwing things. Anger-in types tend to under-express their anger. They suppress their feelings of anger and direct those feelings inward, harboring secret grudges.

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