Emotional Intelligence in Anger Management

Anger is a strong emotion and one that has so many contributors.

Anger can be raised from both relevant and non-relevant elements, and by this I mean, anger can be fuelled by situations and emotions totally outside and unconnected with the conflict being experienced.

For instance, if someone is having an emotionally rough ride in their private relationships they can be (and usually are) fragile and irritable as a result of those private problems and therefore prone to some emotional fragility.

Increasingly, in the workplace, and in society in general, anger, irritability or bad and disrespectful behaviour, is becoming commonplace and especially so as stress levels and emotional strain increases due to financial and employment pressures. This increase appears across every sector of working and occupation.

Screaming at a co-worker? Throwing a cell phone? Some people are hot heads, and the people around can find themselves walking on egg shells not knowing when the next blow up will be. Added to this is the situation of inept stress recognition by Managers, Management Teams and HR Departments who either are not able to resolve these issues (not being trained or educated sufficiently) or not having the appropriate processes in place. So what can you do?

Professional anger-management trainers say that in most cases, anger isn’t an illness but a normal human emotion that causes problems when it flares too hot, too often. They believe people can learn to manage their anger with practical skills. Most anger-management programs understand stress and it’s “emotional intelligence” component ~ the idea that understanding why you are frustrated or annoyed or upset, and then having the tools in finding calm, constructive means to get your way, is far more effective than losing your temper.

Researchers say some people who get angry in the workplace are perfectionists who expect perfection from others, while others are subconsciously masking feelings of vulnerability or emotional fragility stemming from external sources. Emotional intelligence, if educated and uplifted can provide signposts to recognition and resolution. There are dozens of customised anger-management programs for all the different professions, but all of them should have the emotional intelligence components.

Leadership Application

Most of us don’t need an anger-management program because we have effective ways of dealing with our anger feelings but even in these situation, masking or burying anger feelings are not beneficial in the long term. Anger-management certainly does benefit from some techniques borrowed from cognitive-behavioural therapy along with emotional intelligence awareness to help deal with anger.

Here are some strategies to help keep negative emotions in check.

  • Reframe the situation. Instead of seeing every inconvenience or frustration as a personal affront, imagine a more benign explanation.
  • Find a constructive solution to the issue at hand. Ask yourself: “what do I need or what do I need to do now to be okay … right now?” This will shift the focus from how the other person needs to be punished to how “I need to respond in a healthier way”.
  • Keep an “anger log” to monitor what makes you angry.
  • Learn to identify and avoid your triggers.
  • Make a list of your triggers and be more aware of them in order to avoid them.

  • Be aware that anger tends to rise in increments. Learn to evaluate yours from 1 (frustration) to a 10 (rage). If you can catch yourself at 3 or 4, you can think more rationally about the situation.
  • If you feel a blow-up situation coming on, give yourself a time-out before acting on it. Wait 15 minutes before you say something, or an hour before you send an email. If it’s not going to be important in an hour, then let it go. It’s not worth getting angry about.
  • Get a health check-up. Medical problems such as diabetes, chronic pain, low testosterone and low oestrogen, can make people very irritable.
  • Be aware of how you talk to yourself. If you keep saying how awful this is and making yourself feel like a victim, you will get angrier.
  • Get physical, without your fists. When your primitive brain (the Amygdala part of your brain) senses a threat, it sets off the “fight or flight response” where there is a cascade of hormones. Opt for flight instead of fight and burn off the extra adrenaline and cortisol with exercise. Even a brisk walk will help calm you down.
  • Watch your body language.

  • Be aware of your vocal tonality.

  • Inflammation of situations can occur very quickly so you need to be of this.

The ultimate lesson:

Pay more attention to the important things in life and recognise that most frustrations, inconveniences and indignities are trivial and temporary. You do have more control than you think!

Are angry outbursts a pattern in your life or at your workplace?

Do you have any questions about Emotional Intelligence and what to do next?

Feel free to email me or post a comment.

Michael Boase

CEO and EQ Consultant


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