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Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret, Ambrose Bierce.
When anger arises, think of the consequences, Confucius.
Read our free ebook The barking dog for a brief introduction to the topic.
Prevent your anger. If you are angry to the point that you cannot control it…
- Stop, do not do anything when you are very angry because you cannot think straight. Act only when you are calm and in control of your senses! Calm down and breathe deeply. Count to ten and think again. Get control of yourself first before trying to talk and influence others, otherwise walk away.
- Anger is madness as long as it lasts and the end of it is regret. Seneca said and I quote: “Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.”
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured, Mark Twain.
- As you calm down and the adrenaline starts to wear off, make sure to answer the following questions before talking or acting: Am I relaxed enough to make an informed and sound decision? Could the action that I am considering turn against me? Am I analyzing the facts objectively as they happen? Would what I am about to do really solve, alleviate, or worsen the problem? Am I considering the other person’s perspective, feelings, needs, and situation?
- Focus on solutions and the future, not the past. Blaming and pointing fingers is pointless. If you do, then criticise the action, and not the person! (“This was not nice” versus “You are very mean”). Avoid making any destructive or personal criticism.
On the contrary, negative criticism leads to bad feelings, low self-esteem, heavily opinionated discussion, the build-up of anger and resentment. The problem will not be solved, but rather aggravated. Think pragmatically and objectively about the facts, propose solutions and ideas: “How could we resolve this conflict?” “What can we both do to improve the situation?”
- If you screwed things up, ask sincerely for forgiveness, learn from your mistakes, and move on. Don’t worry too much, “nobody is born wise.”
- Normally, you are better off trying to resolve the problem face to face. This is not the moment to use e-mail or text messaging. However, if you have no choice, make sure to follow our second piece of advice. Even though you can write it down at any time, do not send it. Wait for the next day or another time when you are calm and thinking clearly to review it, correct it, and send it.
- If the person is very problematic, he or she does not listen to reason, and you are left with a bitter confrontation because you’ve already tried many times to resolve things and you are pretty sure that there is nothing else that you can try, what can you do?
Make sure that you can win the confrontation. The essential question that you need to ask is this: Who has got the upper hand?
If your adversary has the upper hand because he is the boss, the manager, the director, etc. do not get involved in useless discussions, avoid confrontation, let it go and move on: “Two do not fight if one does not want to.”
If you can confront that person and be honest, find the right place and time, explain the problem calmly, use the best style of communication in difficult conversations, and propose ideas and solutions in order to move forward.
Although you may be completely right and everyone supports you, don’t kick a man when he’s down, don’t add fuel to the fire. Perhaps, if you maintain the right attitude, while still being assertive, you can get that person to rectify and change. Then, and only then you would have achieved all your goals.
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