Harness Your Anger for Productivity

Yes you do. You may deny that you ever get angry, or you may believe you have your entirely-justified anger response tightly under control. But the truth is you experience the energy of anger – whether or not you unleash its full destructive power – far more often than you’d like to admit. Perhaps even more than you actually recognize.

Anger is one of the more powerful human emotions, particularly when fully let loose. But that rarely happens, because most of us keep our anger under some degree of restraint. As a result, we may not be fully conscious of times when that sleeping tiger raises its head, looks around with some level of displeasure, and gives a menacing growl.

This is unfortunate, because there is a good deal of productive value in becoming more aware of our anger, even when it’s half-asleep, and harnessing the extraordinary energy of anger to raise our level of productivity and success.

Here’s a good way to do it:

See It Coming

Even when it seems to, anger rarely arises in a flash. Instead, it almost always develops in lock-step with a situation that’s either unraveling or moving in a direction we don’t like.

Most often, anger begins to arise when random or out-of-control events exert too much influence on the situation we’re experiencing. These events can include almost anything we don’t want at the moment: excess traffic, people or activities we don’t enjoy, blocked hopes or desires, insults or threats to our well-being, even unfairness – such as “good guys” getting unwanted results or “bad guys” getting desirable results.

Assuming you see in advance some oncoming potential for anger, it’s fruitful to take a moment and consider the following steps to channel any raw outburst of negative emotion into positive actions that will be far more beneficial.

Evaluate Your Emotional State

Think back on your history and you’ll no-doubt realize the same or similar events that made you angry one day have also given rise to a variety of other responses, as well: sometimes good-natured acceptance, sometimes clever side-stepping, or something different.

This demonstrates anger arises not simply from an event that somehow gets in your way, but also from your current emotional state when the event occurs.

For example, stuck in traffic and late for an appointment, you might notice you’re feeling the rise of anger because you’re fearful of making a bad impression on those you are about to meet, or because you don’t want to attend this meeting, or haven’t fully prepared for it.

By consciously recognizing your underlying emotional state, you can often short-circuit the usual, automatic arousal of anger and instead find a more productive use of the energy that was headed toward shouting, driving fast, or making relatively desperate choices.

Contemplate Ways to Compensate

Once you identify the event that’s about to trigger your impending anger as well as the emotional state that would provide kindling to fuel it, you have a fighting chance to divert your internal chain of reactions away from an automatic emotional response and toward your more logical, conscious thought centers.

For example, if you’re stuck in traffic on your way to an important appointment, you can short-circuit any automatic anger response and instead calculate the traffic delay and some ways to compensate for it. Instead of expressing the anger, you might call ahead and calmly make arrangements to mitigate any fallout from your late arrival.

Or if a co-worker fails to deliver a promised work-product that’s integral to your own productivity, you might consider other ways to still meet your deadline, perhaps by bringing other people on board to take up some or all of the sudden slack.

After many repetitions of 1) anticipating triggering events, 2) evaluating your emotional readiness to cope with them, and 3) compensating for any important difficulties that result, you may become adept at channeling the energy that formerly went into expressing anger, routinely making make more productive use of it to help increase your level of productivity and success in your work and your life.

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