When fury and anger take hold, it can be dangerous unless you use it wisely. Steve Jobs was known for his temper and Jeff Bezos is allegedly biting and sarcastic when he gets angry.
Anger can be an asset, and a powerful tool in getting what you want done, and helping you make strategic decisions. But if you allow the emotion to control your actions, or repress it, you will make mistakes.
Dealing with charged emotions like anger, anxiety, longing, and fear is part of the reality of your job, leadership consultant Peter Bregman, writes in Harvard Business Review.
"To succeed in life and in leadership, we need to act powerfully in the context of strong emotions and still have the impact we intend," Bregman writes.
When you repress anger, it doesn't just fizzle away. Anger gets "stuck somewhere in our bodies" and you will misdirect it towards someone who doesn't deserve it, Bregman says. That will only alienate an employee and give root to mistrust. If you suppress all of your anger whenever it occurs, you can become physically and mentally ill, unhinged, and exhausted.
If you submit to your emotions and lose your cool, you will not only embarrass yourself but you'll also set a bad example for your employees. If done too often, your outbursts can create a culture of fear. Even worse, letting yourself be controlled by emotions puts you at the mercy of unpredictable actions. "In fact, it's hard to predict what we're going to do because we're not the ones choosing; our feelings decide our next move for us and the outcome is rarely what we intend," he says.
If you want to wield your emotions constructively, find out how Bregman suggests you can feel a strong emotion without being emotional.
The first thing you need to do when anger surfaces is to feel it. Bregman says you need to feel the emotion fully. Your goal isn't to diminish or diffuse your emotion to make yourself feel better, Bergman says. Your goal is to "to feel it so that it wouldn't control [your] next move," he writes.
The second step is to make a strategic decision about what to do next. "This might seem simple but it's by far the hardest option to take. It requires skill and practice. But it's worth it; it has a huge return on investment," he says. The ability to think rationally while anger carouses in your veins takes practice.
Meditation can be very useful. As a leader of a company, there's a lot at stake--possibly millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs. If you're curious about meditation, take five to ten minutes to sit quietly and "feel whatever comes up, and don't do anything about it," Bregman says. "Notice what anger feels like. Notice what frustration feels like. And loneliness and desire. Notice where you feel it in your body. Notice its texture, how it moves, where it leads."
The whole point is to not act on the emotion you're feeling. Just experience your "feeling of feeling" and "independence from it," he writes. After you hone the skill of feeling an emotion and not acting on it, you have greater power and control over yourself and situations. In the moment, when an emotion does arise, your trained mind and body can experience the emotion, express it clearly, and be strategic about your actions. "That, it turns out, is the difference between having a strong emotion and being emotional," he says.
Two rules of thumb.
When something raises your blood pressure, take a minute to feel your emotion. Let yourself get angry. When you get good at this, anger can be a trigger for strategic thinking, Bregman explains.
The rules to expressing your anger are: do not curse and do not make threats. You should raise your voice, you should be angry, but you need to remain in control. As soon as you curse and rattle off threats, your ego has wrapped itself around your rational mind and you lose the upper hand. Be angry, but maintain control over yourself and be articulate. Your vocabulary stretches beyond four letter words.
That's it. Now practice and hone your ability to experience strong emotions without letting them control you.