Anger management is a hot topic today because so many people are angry. Anger management in business is particularly a concern of mine because I have seen so much of it recently. If you have been in a business meeting where someone has “blown up” or “shut down”, you know what I mean. It’s very uncomfortable when it happens and leaves most of us pretty unclear as to what to do next.
The last few years have been stressful times for most businesses, but blaming the economy for all the anger isn’t constructive – it doesn’t really address the issue.
I want to be careful not to over-simplify anger management in business. At the same time, there are some simple rules or principles that can prepare us for what to do when anger surfaces.
Rule #1 – attack issues not people. I’ve said that many times in sessions with clients, but anger is still almost always directed at one or more persons, not the underlying issues. It comes naturally to all of us. Someone does something or doesn’t do something, and it makes us angry. To better fight the reflex, consider this the next time you feel yourself getting angry – anger is a symptom and the behaviors that make us angry are almost always symptoms. Instead of getting angry, say, “There’s an issue here that we need to solve.” Take the energy you would typically use to fuel your anger and apply it instead to identifying and resolving the underlying issues.
Rule #2 – the angry parties own the issue. When someone angers us, we expect them to resolve the issue, so we’re not angry anymore, but that’s not the way things generally work. If it’s your anger, you own it and no one else can resolve it. As Gino recently wrote, you have three choices: live with it, end it or change it. You must decide. One thing is certain, if you don’t resolve it, anger will turn into bitterness and destroy you and your business.
So when it come to anger management in business, apply these two rules.