Don’t respond when you are angry. Take a breath, let the anger flow away from you!

Don’t, act angry. Not that when you are angry you shouldn’t express your anger rather when something bad happens, step away, review and then act. Don’t actually plan and act when you are angry. It is advice that parents give their children. It is advice we have all heard 1000 times before. It is also the hardest thing to follow. It is so easy to say act when you aren’t angry. It is really hard not to lash out when someone does something that injures you.

Lashing out in anger isn’t the answer though. It only makes things worse in most cases and you run the risk of failure when you do. Instead step back, let the anger dissipate and figure out what caused the reaction and how can you fix that. Within each of us there is a logical and illogical reaction to virtually everything, find out why your illogical reaction was trigged.

Now, that is easy to say, find the illogical reaction. In fact, that is as simple to say as don’t be angry when you respond. There are many rules to help with that, the 24-hour email rule (don’t send when mad) or don’t call back and respond to the email or voicemail that riled you. All of this sound advice. Based on that golden rule of our childhood. Do on to others as you would have them do unto you.

Yet we fail. Interesting that we fail more with family than at work. We last out in anger at our family and family members far more often. Why? We know they won’t close the door and walk away. They do sometimes and that is sad but for the most part they won’t close us out forever.

Anger is a funny emotion. It can fuel great performance. (I am going to show him that he was wrong. I am going to do this because she said I couldn’t). It can also add too much fuel to the fire burning inside someone. Enough fuel that they make a decision and suddenly you have other problems to deal with (lost skills, retention etc).

In fact, anger can be a great motivator that leaders use. It can also be a huge problem if used incorrectly. Anger builds hate. Hate is never effective. Building hate does little beyond build hate. Hate is a demotivate. Anger can motivate, but you have to balance the anger with the risk of hate.

So it’s important to let anger go. Act without anger. Anger only as a motivator if hate isn’t the end result. Only use anger on occasion. There is a great level of motivation in saying you can’t do that. Not I forbid you to do that, but rather you can’t accomplish that goal. It works from time to time, but can’t be the only tool in your leadership toolbox.

Anger is very dangerous. Rhetoric that leads to anger builds hate. You hear it and feel it around you all the time. The Rhetoric of hate. Politicians use it at times far to excess. It can be scary. When you take a crowd of human beings and create two distinct mobs (those for and those against). Remove the opportunity for people to step back and the result? The result is they decide to act when they are angry.

Responding only in a negative fashion is a bad idea. There is always a positive slant to what is happening around you. Stop. Breathe. Find the positive. Build on the positive and let the anger go. There is no super hero called angry person. In the words from the show The Incredible Hulk many years ago “you won’t like me when I am angry.”

You won’t like yourself either when you respond angry!


Eyes wide open