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Control your anger

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret, Ambrose Bierce.

Read our free ebook The barking dog for a brief introduction to the topic.

Restrain your anger. If you are angry to the point that you cannot control it

When anger arises, think of the consequences, Confucius

When anger arises, think of the consequences, Confucius

  1. 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, breath and calm your nerves. Get control of yourself first before trying to talk and influence others, otherwise walk away and wait for a better time to resume the conversation in a calm manner, when you have time to listen more attentively and to find the most convincing argument to respond with.
  2. 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.

    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.

  3. 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 to do turn against me? Am I analyzing the facts objectively as they happened? Would what I am about to do or say really solve, alleviate, or worsen the problem? Am I considering the other person’s perspective, feelings, needs, and situation?
  4. Focus on solutions and the future, rather than problems or the past. Blaming and pointing fingers is not only pointless, but counterproductive. If you do, then criticise the action, and not the person! (“This was not nice” versus “You are very mean”). Avoid making any judgments and destructive or personal criticisms.
    Focus on solutions and the future, rather than problems or the past

    Focus on solutions and the future, rather than problems or the past

    On the contrary, negative criticisms lead to bad feelings, low self-esteem, heavily opinionated discussions, 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/problem?” “What can we both do to improve the situation?”
  5. 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.”
  6. 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, correct, and send it.
  7. If the person is very difficult and problematic, he or she does not listen to reason, and you must face a bitter confrontation because you’ve already tried many times to resolve things reasonably and you are pretty sure that there is nothing else that you can try, what can you do?
Difficult people

Difficult people

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 and worthless 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 when speaking, 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 will achieve all your goals because you will win him over.

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