“ I just feel like slamming the table or shouting at people. Different things can make me feel this way“. The bespectacled cheerful looking man, Andy (not his real name), a professional shared. Behind his smile and twinkling eyes, it was impossible to tell that he was struggling with anger issues. His only consolation so far is that he has been able to hide it from his colleagues. Andy is not alone in experiencing this, and many of us might be facing the same thing.
Whether it is at the workplace or at home, difficulty managing one’s anger can lead to undesired consequences. Not being able to deal with anger can also take a toll on our physical, emotional and mental health while affecting our work and relationships.
Of all the checklists that we have, the one checklist that we should really be keeping is our Anger Checklist. The key objective is for us to stay on top of our emotions and relationships, by being aware of what makes us angry and how that might impact our health and the way we respond to others. The following is an example. Do you resonate with some of points? What makes you angry today?
Anger is a normal human response which can vary in intensity from mild annoyance to rage. Being angry may be viewed as a positive emotion when it can drive us to spark positive change or to stand up for something or someone. However, when we feel targeted, it can quickly spiral into a negative emotion that if left ignored and unchecked, can erupt into undesirable aggressive or avoidance behaviors.
A secondary emotion, anger possesses a protective function to cover up a more raw and vulnerable emotion that is hidden under the surface. The Gottman Institute’s Anger Iceberg provides a good illustration of this. Being able to recognize our anger and explore the underlying emotions can help us understand ourselves better.
When Andy took time to explore beneath the iceberg, he realized his anger was linked to a sense of urgency to get things done and not waste time. He was worried that any delays would cause him to miss his milestones. This would get him into trouble with his boss. Recognizing this, Andy was able to take steps to ensure sufficient buffer time was included at the planning stage to account for any loss of time that was not within his control. He also started providing more updates to his boss and colleagues to manage their expectations.
Trying to identify the root emotion may not be easy as we tend to be more attuned to the surface emotion of anger. Here are some tips to uncover what is beneath the surface and to deal with it.
Uncovering the Root of Your Anger
1. Acknowledge and Communicate Your Anger
2. Identify Underlying Emotions
3. Be Curious
4. Identify your Need
If you know of anyone with anger management issues in the office, do not dismiss them or cast them aside as that will only intensify their emotions. Support them by helping them to uncover their triggers and their underlying emotions.
Shane Yan is cofounder and an ICF certified coach and trainer of Growthbeans. She is an author of Wide Asleep Sound Awake – a self-awareness activity book that unleashes the potential of individuals, She is also Mental Toughness (MTQ-48) and Emergenetics Certified, and a Reiki Practitioner.