|Anger is just one letter short of danger.|
The first way is the age-old technique of counting to ten, or twenty - that is, forcing yourself to pause for a length of time before doing or saying anything you might regret. Then you can explain why you feel angry.
Another technique is the time out. You can say, “I’m sorry, I feel angry so I need a few minutes before I can deal with this.” Then go somewhere to be alone until you feel that your anger won’t be as out of control.
Shake It Off
Another way to work off your underlying anger is through exercise or sports. Some busy executives love to get out their aggression on a racquetball court, but even a simple walk around the block can help. Yoga and tai chi will center and ground you, helping reduce stress so you are much less prone to fly off the handle.
Taking a break at lunch and small ones throughout the day may seem counter-productive, but you can actually get more done as you lower your stress and increase your concentration levels.
Own Your Feelings
Another very important strategy is to own the anger. No one is “making you feel” angry. It is a natural emotion that arises in all of us. However, it is your choice as to whether or not you will allow it to take control, or just ignore whatever has irritated you as not worth making a big deal out of.
Expressing Anger Effectively
Anger management also means learning how to express yourself in a healthy way. This can be quite difficult to do for many of us, because a lot of the time we try not to make waves and therefore avoid conflict. The truth is that you are really not avoiding anything, because the feelings can build up like a pressure cooker to such an extent that you explode and splatter everywhere, doing all sorts of damage and leaving you to mop up the mess.
There are a couple of ways to express your anger effectively. The first is to not say, “I am angry because,” but rather, “I feel angry now because.” The latter statement distances you from the emotion and also makes you realize it is only temporary - a new feeling can arise a split-second later.
The second strategy is to express yourself with “I” phrases only, not “You”. “You made me feel angry,” is not taking responsibility for and control of own your feelings.
A third strategy is to avoid absolutes. “You ALWAYS” and “You NEVER” are two good examples of this.
One other key strategy is to manage expectations and understanding. For example, your anger might stem from you expecting one thing to happen and another does. Or you thought you and your boss or spouse had agreed to X and they have done Y or expect Y. Remembering that there are two sides to every story can help you rein in your anger and control it, instead of it controlling you.
Anger management is not about never feeling angry. It is about learning how to express that anger in a way that will not damage or destroy relationships. Try these ways of expressing your anger differently and see what a difference it can make to your life.