Anger is a pretty terrible thing. It can eat you up from the inside, and it can cause you to say things or do things that you wouldn’t normally say or do. And it almost always ends up leaving someone hurting in its wake; at the very least in an emotional sense and of course in a worst case scenario it can even leave someone reeling physically.
It’s just not a good feeling to have and when it rears its ugly head, it should be dealt with swiftly and seriously.
I recently posted a couple of quotes on my Facebook Fan Page, which by the way you need to check out if you haven’t been there yet….http://facebook.com/habitualvictory. One quote points to the potential damage that anger presents for us and the other offers sage advice on how to deal with your own feelings. Here they are:
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret” – Ambrose Bierce
“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow” – Chinese Proverb
Pretty good, right? Usually my words of wisdom for anyone who becomes angry and finds themselves about to speak, is exactly like the proverb mentions above: be patient! Use some version of the good old “count to 10 rule”, or take a little walk outside. Just give yourself some time to cool down. You will almost always feel more focused and see things differently when you allow the circumstance to sink in a little. The bottom line is that you have to do whatever is necessary to allow yourself to come back to the right frame of mind. Anger can be like a blanket that covers up your reason and sensibility…having the patience to endure the initial temptation to lash out is what literally creates character.
You and everyone around you will be so glad you took the extra 5, 10, or 15 minutes to neatly gather your emotions.
I’ve also found in my experience that humor can diffuse some of the most volatile situations imaginable. And it leaves everyone with a great feeling of calm after it passes.
You’ve probably heard it said that laughter is the best medicine, and I think that’s a perfect analogy! Laughter is powerful and it spreads quickly, it eats away at negative feelings and it absolutely heals the soul. It’s like kryptonite against the super powers that anger seems to have over us mortals.
So I was thinking the other day of a particular instance where humor got me out of a jam, and that’s actually what prompted me to post this. I’ll share it with you.
Here’s the scene: I was a sales manager for a television station in California. I had a staff of ten people that I supervised at the time, and I was pretty much in a constant state of making decisions involving each of them, a lot of those decisions affecting people in other departments within the company.
On one Friday afternoon around 4:30pm, I found myself in an agitated situation dealing with a person from one of those other departments…
She was pretty angry when she stomped into my office, and I guess if looks could kill I wouldn’t even be around to tell this tale…I had sort of forced something through the system and it made its way to her desk. She was none too happy that about 20 minutes before she was headed out for the weekend, she now had to deal with my special little gift.
She began by yelling at me as if I were a child, explaining that she was extremely busy, stressed to the max, and working on multiple projects at once and that I had made her life entirely miserable with my one little decision. Can you say “the straw that broke the camels back”? Anyway, that condescending lecture soon turned to her expressing how important her duties were, how valuable her time was and how I was merely a sales manager. You know, just above amoeba in the hearts and minds of most folks who have never been in sales.
And then, at the apex of her diatribe, and in the most arrogant way possible, she says to me, “you know, a monkey could do your job!”
Now look, this was a heated moment to say the least. Really, as best I could discern, juggling what was becoming an angry little attitude of my own, it was merely the function of me (the “sales guy”) having made her job a little more difficult by asking for something that extended her above and beyond the box she was used to operating in. And right before the weekend!
She happened to be a manager as well, but in a role that was “under me” in the silly hierarchy that we create in the workplace. So for the purposes of “HR correctness” she was technically walking that thin line between just being flat out rude and being downright insubordinate.
Either way, after having been initially taken by surprise, I was now seething a tad (ego having been dinged) and had to sit there looking at her for a moment before I responded. Then, it came to me! I felt the overwhelming need to inject some levity. I knew that if I could make light of the comment that had obviously been made in a moment of extreme frustration, the situation would likely diffuse itself.
So, I sat up nice and tall and with a straight face replied, “You’re right, a monkey could do my job. But could a monkey do my job well?”
After we both stopped laughing hysterically, she admitted to me that she had made her comment out of anger, and of course she didn’t mean it to be personal. She then confessed that she really liked working with me and respected what I did. I suspected that the last part may have been just a tad sugar coated, if you know what I mean…but I accepted her apology, nonetheless.
Humor can be a very effective tool whenever you find yourself dealing with a situation that feels bad, especially if it is about to escalate to that level where regret and pain are waiting to pounce on you. And it gets you to that “other side” where you can then sort through things in the best way possible and make decisions to move forward.
Of course I did spend the better part of that weekend wondering if her original statement was true…could a monkey have done my job? No matter I guess…