Is Anger Our Enemy?

I really like the Harvard Business Review, but surprisingly I want to take issue with one statement in an otherwise good post on 5 Self-Defeating Behaviors.  See the whole thing here.  See the start of her number 1 pasted here.

Getting angry
Anger and blame are unproductive emotions….

Admittedly, anger is often misused, however anger and even blaming can be healthy when used well. Anger helps us know when things are wrong.  We need to alter our use of it, and not ban it.  I recall forgiving and urging as we got into trouble in our work, but one day I unloaded on an over confident salesman, and the result was a complete turnaround in productivity all around.

People had been afraid to call a spade a spade due to my stated dislike of criticism. Unloading publicly when he publicly soft pedaled issues, electrified the right elements in the company and got us back on track.

We need to look ourselves in the mirror before unloading on others, but we should never be afraid to call a spade a spade in our organization. Naturally, it takes a lot more savvy to express anger with your boss or even a customer, but the emotion is not wrong. We just need to know how to express it to make the organization better. Finally, expressing anger in an email, is almost always non productive and often harmful. It is often misunderstood in that format, but hot conflict among coworkers to get things right should be encouraged.  Conflict should not be personal, but focused on issues.  We should not bury our anger, but ask why it is there, and what we should be doing about it.

4 Points

1. Look in the mirror to see if your anger is simply for self protecting reasons.  Take care of your issues foremost and do not use anger to cow unwanted voices.

2. Apply anger in select places to move the ball, and do it in person.  Be super sharp, not personal, and no dumping on people.

3. Do not be afraid to apologize if you are over the top.

4. Do not crush people for their complaining and emotional outbursts. Think carefully, for you may need those voices.

A blanket prohibition on anger would not do our organizations much good. Let’s learn to examine our own anger and understand that of people around us.


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Posted in: Being the Right Person, Culture Development, Leadership, Team Development

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