Summary: What do you do when anger boils over into your relationships? Do you walk away from angry confrontations with ease and grace? Perhaps you are left with hurt feelings, emotional scars, or physical ills. Here are ways to control anger before it becomes a tsunami.
Dear Dr. Sylvia,
These days fill with tension and anger. Coming out of the pandemic has its issues.
Presently, my team and I are working to create the future workplace.
For instance, I know our company will continue to be hybrid.
However, including each point of view is a challenge. Here is where I need some help.
Above all, even when people’s mouths are in smile mode, the anger from their words is devastating.
Here is an example: I was on a Zoom call with my senior leadership team (8 people) that now resides all over the country.
We were discussing how often to meet in person at our headquarters in Manhattan.
Leadership Education is needed to keep tensions from boiling over at work.
Several of the execs on the West Coast were smiling broadly; at least, the edges of their mouth pointed toward their eyes.
However, the words gave a different perspective. They flowed fast and furious. Words like “feeling discounted, ignored, misused, etc.” were being bandied around.
After that, their tonality was either flat or contentious.
Yet, the damn smile was meant to hide the frustration and, yes, even disgust.
Ultimately, the meeting fell flat, like a pin popping a balloon.
We ended when I, the President, had to decide when and where we would meet in person.
In short, it was not pretty.
Teams of adversaries develop when leadership education ignores the need for all individuals to be heard and included.
In addition, there were now “for and against” teams.
Subsequently, I felt like I could not get a win out of my decision.
Everyone left the meeting with downcast eyes and the edges of mouths pointing toward the chin.
In other words, I want my team to be united and everyone to be respected and appreciated.
I don’t want to “squash” the upset and don’t want it to take over the meeting.
Therefore, how can I constructively use the power of anger?
Leadership education needs to include the ABC of anger management for team cohesion.
Dear NOT Smiling,
Firstly, let me take a different approach. Let’s play “Just imagine” for a moment to move past your recent contentious meeting.
Close your eyes and see yourself at a business meeting. Perhaps tensions are high because sales are low. Look around the room. Pay attention to how different individuals handle stress.
Some smile and swallow their anger. Others make jokes. Some leave the room. Then some get loud. Others get even louder.
What do YOU do when tensions take over the room?
Acknowledge anger in meetings, or it will fester and cause more significant issues.
It’s not about questioning if you do get angry. Instead, it’s how you show your anger. Even more, it’s about what’s underneath the anger.
All things considered, that’s the real question.
Whatever you call it, anger is real and needs addressing. Yet please be aware that anger is a secondary reaction to stress.
It is the more profound stress and anxiety that is rarely discussed. Once you look underneath the anger, you can manage it more effectively.
Leadership education that shows how to manage anger, betrayal, and chaos will move teams to higher productivity.
Let’s take a quick trip back to the past.
Instead of a business meeting, see yourself sitting at the dinner table when you were a kid and conflict showed up. Did your family duke it out in an aggressive manner? If so, did they scatter as fast as possible in all directions? Did someone, maybe even you, stay frozen, like a deer in the headlights?
There are three main ways we all learned from early on to handle conflict: Fight, flight, or freeze. These are how our ancient ancestors behaved, and we have genetic memory to keep these ways of responding in our behavior patterns, even if they are no longer the best practices.
Here is an updated way of looking at what fear and anxiety do to us:
Anger is a learned response and is a way to adapt and adjust.
- Anger: It happens all the time and is a way of telling you to adapt and adjust. It’s a force that can help you learn to manage relationships so they don’t dissolve or end up with a lawyer to fight your battles. How you handle anger now is directly related to how you handled anger as a kid. Take time to connect the dots from the past to now. Then it would be best if you did some hard work to reverse how you respond when your buttons get pushed.
Betrayal must be discussed, or it will erode relationships.
- Betrayal: When conflict comes, we tend to pick sides. There are three sides to consider: fight, flight, or freeze. You are either for, against, or play neutral. When someone we thought we could trust goes over to the other side, the dark side, we feel betrayed. Betrayal is hard to reconcile. However, if not tended to, it can erode relationships for years, even a lifetime. This dilemma concerns feelings of abandonment or being ignored. It affects how you handled the discomfort of being left out or pushed aside.
Chaos is a time for leaders to stay optimistic and point to the future.
- Chaos: Like anger, chaos is for good or naught. Amid the confusion, you can come to a new understanding of what is happening if you stand still when nothing seems to make sense. When chaos leaves you breathless, take a time out. Think about how you asked or did not ask for help in the past, who came to your aid, and how the swirling chaos settled down for new beginnings to more optimistic times.
Anger is a symptom. Get to the underlying anxiety so you can make changes quickly.
In short, if you are addicted to anger and need to be in control, run, don’t wait; get a coach who will help you with the ABCs, the whole picture. You’ll be healthier and more joyful in all your relationships.
Leadership coaching programs are beneficial for dealing with the revolution in today’s workplace.
The issues are as old as time and yet as new as today.
How do you manage a team when everyone is on their specific schedule?
What do you do with those who want to continue to work from home?
How do you respond when employees say, “Screw the promotion; I want to be happy?
I suggest you consider our Leadership Coaching Program, which is now online. It is based on the award-winning Total Leadership Connections Program and is now available worldwide. There are four modules, and I know you will find new ways to handle anger (your own or what gets directed towards you).
Here’s to your success,
PS. You can join the free Stress Mastery Facebook group for more information about how anger and stress are “bedfellows.”