Getting the Most From Anger
Our discomfort with anger speaks to its power. But, those who don’t get angry don’t care.
Anger is uncomfortable because it ruins lives. The term “frustration” is more comfortable. “I’m not angry,” we say, “I’m just frustrated.”
Anger is passion.
Anger is a gift.
“Sometimes, you have to get angry to get things done.” Ang Lee
The voice of anger:
- I’m not getting what I want.
- I feel powerless, stuck, or abused.
- I don’t like this.
- Something needs to change.
- That’s not right. One reason things don’t get better is we aren’t angry enough.
Anger motivates change.
Getting the Most From Anger:
Show me a leader who uses anger wisely and I’ll show you a success.
Focus and direct anger, don’t vent or suppress it.
- What behaviors need to stop? Beginnings begin with stopping. Anger provides courage to stop.
- What do I want?
- What don’t I like?
- What do I value?
- Who am I blaming?
- What is out of my control?
- What can I do? Don’t internalize, over-generalize, blame, or excuse.
The sad side of anger is it makes us fools. Regret follows misused, misguided anger.
- Reckless behavior, outbursts and temper tantrums.
- Intimidation, abuse, disrespect, and unkindness.
- Venting. Anger is wasted when it’s vented.
- Raw expression. Anger apart from reflection destroys. We’ve all said things in anger we’d love to take back.
- Dwelling on the past.
Angry parents, spouses, and bosses abuse people. But, the misuse and abuse of anger isn’t reason enough to reject its value.
When angry, stop and observe yourself. Will you be proud of what happens next? If not, ask seven questions to get the most out of anger.
What are the dangers of anger?
How can leaders get the most from anger?
Great tips. I will share them with one of my students who comes to class daily angry about something in his life.
Thanks for sharing bonitasuefly. Best wishes
Never waste a good mad.
If you are interested in seeing anger in action, take a look at the Rob Ford saga in Toronto. City anger got him elected and now his personal anger is leading to his downfall.
Anger certainly has a down side.
Anger is a two-edged sword. If you can control it, you can focus it and use it to drive and motivate yourself and your actions in a constructive manner, but if you can’t control it, then you run the risk of the anger clouding your judgement and causing you to lash out at both the source of your anger, and (other) people around you. Not to mention that uncontrolled anger at times cause you to say things you either don’t mean, or shouldn’t have said.
Anger is perhaps the most dangerous of emotions because of it’s dark side. But, it can be as powerful for good as it is for bad.
Kyrel, You hit it right. Thank you Dan Rockwell for this post. I have seen both sides of anger. I have used controlled anger to get my point across clearly. But, I have watched uncontrolled anger destroy relationships as well.
Well for me not exactly
Those who don’t get angry do absolutely care, they just got their med levels right!!! Hehe
Amazing how Thorazine takes the edge off!!!! Happy happy joooyyyyy jjjoooooooooooy……slobber!!!!!!
Getting angry for me is not the problem, it is staying angry. Bad choice!! Choose again Grasshoppaaaa!!!!!
Gives me a chance to see where my house is out of order. I get to tell myself. “I could choose peace instead of this”!
Bottom line my level of staying angry is a direct indicator of my maturity and response-ability. If I am a big baby with wet stinky diapers I am most likely pissed a lot! By my own choosing of seeing what happens outside of me and the story I tell myself of what it means. No other way. If I am upset….I set myself up. Get it?
When I get off track I repeat, “conscious contact with God” over and over again till I regain the mindset I like most…..happy NOW!!
Cya. Thanks Dan
SP back into the groovy now!!!
The topic of staying angry vs. getting anger is important. Thanks for introducing it to our conversation.
In the immortal words of George Castanza……..
Happy Festivus to All!!!
SP back to my present!!!!
Some observations re: anger:
1) Anger has its place when motives of the angry person are pure, and the anger is channeled in a memorable way for good ends. (ex. Jesus Christ driving money changers out of the temple, my personal revulsion with those who abuse children). Unfortunately, much of the time anger is the result of impure motives, or is ineffectively expressed.
2) Anger should not be allowed to fester, or it creates bitterness, desire for revenge, and grudges. The biblical admonishment to “be angry and sin not” and “don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” are absolutely on the mark.
3) Even when extremely angry, self control is an absolute must.
4) Feigning anger to get one’s own way or instill fear is wrong. It is a form of manipulation and lying.
Thanks for this thought-provoking post.
I appreciate your insights. I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership motivation. Best I have is be motivated to serve others. Anger in that context seems to be safer.
Excellent perspective, Dan. It is hard to be angry in the wrong way if the motive for anger is serving others.
When I read the line- Anger is passion, I resonated by belief that I gained through varied experience. I would share one experience here- during my data collection for my PhD work that was audio recording in-depth interview, I asked one retired CEO who had transformed one almost sick organization to performing organization, as what inspired him to take such turnaround and challenging steps that no previous CEOs could dare to take. He replied- It is my anger that was suppressed for the last 30 years that I experienced in the system, I experienced how system was slow and what influenced it. He said, how people paralyzed the system and since I did not have capacity to take effective step, I could not do much, but when I gained the position of CEO, I had capacity and then I dared to take step. All these motivation came out of my anger for the past three decade.
I could clearly witness the change in the system. He also shared his experience as how different people starting from board members to union representative put pressure not to take strong steps. Despite all the challenging situations, he sailed against the flow and finally succeeded beyond imagination.
I think the dangers of anger is ” No-direction”. When anger leads to no direction situation, then it has to be dangerous. As given the case above, leaders can accumulate anger to reinforce their passion to achieve desired and often bigger goals.
My favorite statement: “I think the dangers of anger is “NO-direction.”
Another good topic. Comment on venting – we should reject public venting while being open to private venting (with a mentor, coach, spouse, etc). Private venting can get the anger out before it spills over onto someone else. Venting is merely a release – and doing so in private with a trusted confidante can actually help guide that anger into something more positive.
I agree. Sometimes you need to sort through what you are really angry about with someone “off stage” so you can think through what you need to do.
I have someone in my life that I blow off steam with. I say things I’d never say anywhere else. Sometimes I need to go around my anger a few times…express it…think about it…express it again. Then I can find a positive direction.
Anger is pure energy that rises in us outside of our design. We don’t plan for it, but we can be ready for it. It doesn’t surprise us, we feel it coming. We need to be ready to channel it – to use it for something positive. Sometimes however, the intensity of it makes that very challenging 🙂
It’s true, we can see it coming. That’s a thought that says, I can take responsibility for my behaviors. Nice add.
I can see how anger can be focussed to get things done. I’m struggling with this line: 4.Venting. Anger is wasted when it’s vented.
Thanks for bringing that up.
What research indicates that is that venting may not be that beneficial. Letting things cool by giving it some time, for example, and then taking action is much more useful.
I don’t know about you but I’ve seem people venting their anger and it usually isn’t pretty or useful. It’s more of, “everyone pay attention to me”
ahhh when you put it that way it makes sense, you are speaking of an uncontrolled and explosive venting session. When I have vented it goes something like this: I cool off and think about how I want to address it and run it by somebody I trust. Perhaps that is not venting, now that I think about it, perhaps it’s more like using someone as a sounding board.
sounds like you are getting the most from anger
We may be playing a game of how we use words, but here goes.. I seldom get angry – here’s why. Anger take me to a place emotionally in which it begins to rule the moment, not the constructive goals of whatever is the root of the tension. In negotiation (something I’ve done a lot in my career) my job is to express and make credible my position, in that context anger — a tactic sometimes used with the trigger term “you’re not being reasonable” – destroys credibility.
Metaphorically I describe it this way “Tom Brady and Dale Earnhart Jr are both accomplished sports stars, but pull either one into the others arena and they are a disaster…” Anger pulls me into an arena I don’t believe I can play/be effective in.
I think you are talking more about expressing anger than feeling it.
I love anger. Or if you prefer, frustration. When I get up in the morning to write, I want to be frustrated about a problem. It sets me free and energizes me.
Passion to make things better couples with anger at something that’s “not right” is an unstoppable combination.
Hey Dan; Anger is simply one of many human emotions we can experience. Emotions can confirm proper and improper reactions to circumstances, they can warn us of impending doom, they motivate us to do the rite thing, and at times, to do the wrong thing. Emotions are critical to decision making. When emotions are concidered take time to examine the root cause of the emotion, ask yourself if the emotion is genuine or could we be allowing the emotion to cloud our judgment. Hastiliy jumping to conclusions is allowing emotion to negativley influence decision making. Especially when dealing with sensitive ‘Hot-Button issues’, take time to concider the legitimacy of the emotion and weather we are giving it the proper level of concideration. Emotions can help keep us alive by warning us of impending doom. They can also draw our attention to possibilities and opportunities. When given the proper attention and concideration, emotions can be an excellant tool to guide our decision making. However be careful when circumstances dictate quick decisions, the emotions you can at times find ‘so-o-o’ helpful can cause us to rush to judgment while clouding perspective resulting improper acctions and or decisions. “Breakfast is my treat next time, let me know when your hungry”! Have a great day my freind.
I absolutely love your introduction of “clouded judgement” into the conversation. Action motivated by anger are different from acting in anger.
Anger often invites us to do self-destructive or other-destructive things.
An eye opening post! Loved the comments- ‘Sometimes you have to get angry to get things done’ and ‘Anger motivates change’. Both are absolutely true. I shall add one more comment based on my experience- ‘Anger is essential if motives are good sans using abusive language and done in private with a basic trust in people and building a team of deliverers’.
I would like to share one good and one bad experience of mine [can also be termed as an example of ‘a good and a bad leader’] where I was on the receiving end. The first example is of a young professional boss who was hired for a turnaround of marketing division of a reputed mid-sized pharma company. He acted as a terror and was furious with practically everyone since he was required to bring a radical change in the working system and style of marketing team and other cross-functional heads all older to him age-wise. He used his anger skillfully with good intentions following a simple principle of ‘appreciate in public and reprimand in private’. He practically pushed all within and outside the department including various vendors with a force of anger to make them work with full accountability and timely delivery. He became very successful in just 3 months of his joining and remained with the company for just 3 years and brought a sea-change in the results.
The other boss was a psychic and had a bad habit of criticizing few seniors with anger. His intentions were good but was totally inhuman in his approach with no appreciation whatsoever. He could bring in good control systems but with inconsistent results. In the end, he lost good people and sank the organization with his own forceful exit.
The conclusion is very simple- ‘Anger is essential and useful with careful handling’.
Thanks Dr. Asher,
I appreciate your stories. Anger is a driving force. Using it well takes us far. I like your last two words, “careful handling.”
Anger can be the catalyst to get things done… even to get things re-done right. However, this strong emotion needs to be reigned in and released in the right direction to be successful. Venting is misguided and a waste of energy.
“re-done” … after re-doing things a few times, we should be angry enough to do them right the first time! 🙂
Not recognizing your role (and your choices) in receiving and wearing anger is one danger. It seems we often chew on ourselves for not seeing/doing something about it sooner as we try to wash it off…not so easily done. As others have noted, it is an energy that can be channeled after a certain point to something constructive.
Can’t pick up lava while its hot, but afterwards can certainly marvel at the power that made it….
Here’s an errant train of thought…wonder if, next time you are in a meeting floating off toward MEGO (my eyes glaze over) if you thought about something that has/had made you angry if you might not refocus quicker… hmmm.
Love the lava illustration.
You continue to crack me up with your comments. “MEGO”… kapow…
And yes, I would be refocused when I started thinking about something that made me angry… however, I might not be that useful.
Another great post Dan. I think a great leader will always acknowledge whenever he or she is in the wrong, especially when they lose their cool. Anger is a strong emotion and one that can cause more emotions to run from the receiving end.Apologizing for their actions and moving forward is what a responsible and mature leader should do.
I think the biggest clue should be, What is the pronoun in front. Is the I there then most likely it is the wrong purpose. sounds like I, I, I,
Or Me, me, me.
But if it is the good for ALL OK, now. ;o)
I guess it can be called an compass to see if you are going in the right direction.
It is funny that is what I started my comment with the word I. So I guess this is just my opinion. LOL
Never looked at it that way before. But as I reflect on this I see that you are absolutely right. There are few things that I must get angry about in my life to motivate me to change them. Thanks
Will you be proud of what happens next? Brilliant. What a great control mechanism. 🙂
Reblogged this on the ChangeYourLife blog and commented:
Excellent article on anger – love the very last question at the foot…
Channeling the energy that anger produces into something productive rather than destructive is a great challenge. Good read. Thank you.
As most of us, I have seen both sides of anger. I have used controlled anger to get my point across clearly. I well tolerate a lot and have incredible patience but if needed, I will address a situation forcefully but controlled, to be sure there is no question as to where I stand. However, being angry does not mean you say things you wish you could later take back. Staying focused and clear to bring comprehension without the emotion is the key. Sadly, however, I have seen the dark side of anger that destroys relationships of every type. The Bible says “Be angry and sin not” That pretty well sums it up.
good post. Beware the Dark Side of the Mind.