We’ve all had it happen. A friend, family member, or colleague pushes the wrong button—and we explode, or at least want to. And when we do explode, it’s often unhealthy, both for the other person involved and for us. On the other hand, simply letting ourselves stew in the anger, suppressing it because we know exploding’s inappropriate, isn’t always healthy or helpful, either.
If we’re fortunate, whatever’s set us off isn’t part of an immediate, face-to-face confrontation, so we have time to consider our response.
But how should we respond? I had the opportunity to ponder this question today (June 14, as I write this) when a fine post by Michael Hyatt popped up in my news feed. The post itself is well worth the time it takes to read, and there’s some good discussion in the comments section, too.
Among the strategies suggested in the post:
- Don’t react immediately. Give yourself some time to get a clearer view of the issue and what’s at stake.
- Talk the anger out with someone, or write out a letter or email without sending it (or at least, have a trusted friend or colleague read it over before sending it).
- Arrange to talk with the offending person face-to-face, or over the phone.
It’s also good to realize that sometimes we contributed to the negative situation, and we need to take responsibility for that. At other times we’re right—but our anger is disproportionate to the situation. Perhaps the issue is even something we should just let go. Seriously, though, go read the post.
What’s been your experience of dealing with anger in the academic workplace, whether it’s occasioned by students or colleagues? What strategies have you found effective in dealing with anger constructively? Let us know in the comments.