This article explains Anger Management in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful employee development and stress management tool.
What is Anger Management?
When people experience stress, it is often accompanied by all sorts of emotions, including anger. In their best seller ‘Anger Kills’, American psychologists Redford Williams and Virginia Parrott Williams indicated that there are 17 strategies to control aggression and anger. They would eventually reduce this to 12 strategies. They describe anger as a normal and common emotion that people experience. Anger can have a destructive effect, however. The more often one experiences anger, the more damaging it can be. For example, when someone is angry often, people may start avoiding this person. Moreover, if a person is unable to control their angle, it is not good for their health.
Dealing with Anger
Anger is often accompanied by aggression; someone will fully express their emotions, without considering the people around them. Anger can be expressed by shouting, cursing, raving, and even physical violence or other display of power. For this reason, anger management is very important. Angry incidents should be prevented or at least tempered.
Anger in itself isn’t necessarily harmful, but in the long term it can cause people to suffer significantly. Although anger management is by no means easy, it can definitely be learned. If anger isn’t controlled, it can lead to serious conflicts in interpersonal interactions. This will cause problems both in people’s private lives and at the workplace. Pent-up anger also has negative consequences. For example, it could suddenly erupt in full force – comparable to an erupting volcano. Redford and Virginia list the following anger management strategies:
Strategy 1. Acknowledging the problem
By first acknowledging the Anger Management problem itself, it becomes possible to create the space to take concrete action. This offers a starting point for change. In case of major issues, with anger outbreaks occurring at a higher frequency, it can help to visit a therapist. For example, a psychologist or coach can help to better understand the cause of the anger and associated behaviour. Anger Management therapy is a useful method of learning to accept anger and how to deal with it.
Strategy 2. Log
By keeping track of when anger arises exactly, what the cause is. and what people, situations or behaviour trigger it, it is possible to gain further insight into the repetitive nature of anger. This insight enables people to make conscious choices and avoid certain situations.
Strategy 3. Network
By looking for support from the main people in their network, they can become more disciplined not to fall back into an old pattern. Support must be provided in a safe environment, where people feel free to point out that the person is reacting angrily and should control themselves. By dedicating time and attention to family, friends, or colleagues, mutual trust will increase. In addition, talking to each other will help to relieve stressful moments. Eventually this can help someone to control anger.
Strategy 4. Interrupting the cycle of anger
This is one of the most important Anger Management strategies, but also one of the most difficult. The moment anger arises, it is good to ‘count to 10’ first. Rather than immediately bursting out into anger, the person will significantly benefit from taking a step back and realising what’s happening. Simply telling oneself to stop may already be enough. Searching for a quiet place or moving to a different location can also interrupt outbursts. In addition, it is extremely beneficial to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. By interrupting the cycle of anger, it is possible to avoid saying things that may hurt others and which will be regretted later…
Strategy 5. Empathy
By empathising with others, empathy provides a different perspective and allows someone to view the situation from a different angle. This makes it possible to assess the situation objectively and realising that the anger comes from within. Every person makes mistakes, and by facing these mistakes directly, people can better themselves.
Strategy 6. Humour
By looking at the situation that led to the anger, people learn to laugh at themselves and not take things so seriously. Humour can relieve tension and puts matters into perspective. It defuses the tension between both parties. However, should humour move into the realm of cynicism or sarcasm, the effect will be anything but positive. As this may hurt the feelings of others, it should be avoided at all costs.
Strategy 7. Take a break
Taking a break will have a positive effect on both the mind and body. Regular exercise, relaxation exercises, and sufficient sleep can all contribute significantly. Not to mention, a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water and little alcohol will result in a calmer lifestyle. When someone feels anger, physical exercise can help calm them down. For example, go for a long walk or participate in other physical activities such as sports. This allows for a so-called ‘time out’ moment, after which people notice that they have calmed down.
Strategy 8. Trust
By placing more trust in others, anger can be reduced. People who quickly become angry often have the idea that others do things deliberately to annoy or frustrate them. Naturally, by trusting friends and colleagues, distrust decreases. When something goes wrong, this doesn’t necessarily have to be on purpose or with malicious intent. But trust is a two-way thing. It is therefore wise to clearly communicate with others, so they know what to expect from someone. Always set a good example.
Strategy 9. Listening effectively
By listening to others carefully, there will be less miscommunication. Misunderstanding is often a main contributor to situations of frustration. By actively improving listening skills ie. Empathic Listening, people can actually hear what is meant. In other words, this means not interrupting others, briefly repeating what has been said, asking questions, and avoiding immediately talking about their own topic.
Strategy 10. Be assertive
By being assertive, people can stand up for themselves, but not always in respectful ways. It is precisely people with anger issues who will quickly become aggressive and show little respect towards others. In case of aggression, the focus is on winning. Instead, it is important to keep in mind the emotions, rights, and needs of others and to maintain a balance. People should indicate it when they are angry about something. By openly talking about matters in a calming way, the other person’s feeling will not be hurt, and a solution can be sought in a positive way.
Strategy 11. Express joy
Expressing joy enables people to live like it was their last day on Earth. This will make one realise that anger is an emotion that is a waste of both time and energy. When people enjoy life, they look more for things that give them happiness, causing anger to fade away.
Strategy 12. Forgive and forget
A forgive-and-forget attitude will make anger go away. People often tend to act out of spite. Angry feelings from the past pop up and lead someone to return to negative emotions. The mantra ‘no resentment, no pain’ can be useful and will alleviate feelings of anger. Forgiveness can be a powerful tool and can turn negativity into positivity.
It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Are you familiar with Anger management? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more suggestions? How do you deal with Anger and what would you like to share on Anger Management?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Barnes, V. A., Johnson, M. H., Williams, R. B., & Williams, V. P. (2012). Impact of Williams LifeSkills® training on anger, anxiety, and ambulatory blood pressure in adolescents. Translational behavioral medicine, 2(4), 401-410.
- Williams, R. (2012). Anger kills: seventeen strategies for controlling hostility that can harm your health. Crown.
- Williams, R. (2010). Lifeskills: 8 Simple ways to build stronger relationships, communicate more clearly, and improve your health. Harmony.
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