Anger is a natural, unavoidable, and instinctual reaction, and is important to respond to anger appropriately when it shows up in the team. In this blog post, we will discuss the do’s and Don’ts in responding to anger.
Unhelpful Ways of Dealing with Anger in a Team
The following are unhelpful ways of dealing with anger:
- DON’T ignore the anger.
Some team members respond to anger by not admitting, even to themselves, that they are angry. Defense mechanisms often used to ignore anger include laughing an issue off, distracting one’s self from the problem, and trivializing the trigger’s impact.
- DON’T keep the anger inside.
There are people who do recognize that they’re angry. However, they choose to obsess about their anger in silence rather than express it. They can bear grudges for a long time. People like this, also called ‘stuffers’, are more likely to develop hypertension compared to others. They are also likely to just ‘explode’ one day, once the anger has built to the point that they can’t keep it inside anymore.
- DON’T get aggressive.
The right to vent your anger doesn’t extend to doing it in ways that can hurt others, hurt yourself, and damage property. Aggression can be verbal or physical.
- DON’T get passive-aggressive.
Passive-aggressiveness refers to indirect and underhanded means to get back at the person who made you angry. Examples of passive-aggressive behaviors are gossiping, tardiness and backbiting.
- DON’T use non-constructive communication styles.
Avoid the use of indirect attacks and unproductive statements. These include blaming, labeling, preaching, moralizing, ordering, warning, interrogating, ridiculing and lecturing.
Helpful Ways of Dealing with Anger in a Team
The following are helpful ways in dealing with anger:
- DO acknowledge that you are angry.
It is important that you know how to recognize that you are angry, and give yourself permission to feel it. This can be as simple as saying to yourself “I am angry.” Remember, you can’t control something you don’t admit exists!
- DO calm yourself before you say anything.
There is a biological reason why anger can feel overwhelming — our body is engaged in a fight or flight response. It helps then to defer any reactions until you have reached the return to normal/ adaptive phase of the anger cycle. Otherwise, you might end up saying or doing something that you’d later regret. Count 1 to 10!
- DO speak up, when something is important to you.
This is the opposite to ‘keeping it all in.’ If a matter is important to you, so much so that keeping silent would just result in physical and mental symptoms, then let it out. If it’s not possible to speak to the person concerned, at least look for a trusted friend or a mental health professional.
- DO explain how you’re feeling in a manner that shows ownership and responsibility for your anger.
Take ownership and responsibility for your feelings. This makes the anger within your control (you can’t control other people).