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October 15, 2012 / mike54martin

Dealing with Anger

Unless you are the Dalai Lama you have probably gotten angry at work sometimes. And I suspect that even His Holiness has turned cranky if his green tea was served cold too many times in a row. So for the rest of us mere humans it is not a question of whether or not we will get angry, but when? And the even bigger question is what damage will that anger cost us, especially at work?

The good news is that while we may not be able to stop ever getting angry again, we can learn to contain that damage, both to ourselves and others. Some experts say that the key to anger damage control is to learn to identify the signs that we are becoming angry and the earlier we can do that, the better our chances are of containing the angry emotions. Spotting the signs early is important because once we hit the red zone our brains actually turn off and we are driven by a combination of energy, emotion and enzymes that propel our internal engine to blow/

So what are your early anger signs? For most people they are almost always physical. Long before you erupt in tears or foul language you probably start to feel a little warmer as your body temperature rises. If you could see yourself in the mirror you would likely see your face becoming red or flushed. You will also notice that your heart is beating a little faster as more blood and adrenaline is being delivered to help you decide whether to fight or flee. And your breath if you could pause to check it would be much more shallow than usual, like you weren’t even breathing at all. Sound or feel familiar??

So what can you do when you start feeling this way? The first step is to physically disengage from the situation as soon as you can. Call a timeout, go to the washroom, reschedule the meeting or call, or just make your best excuse and leave. If that is not possible then do what you’d tell your kids and count to ten. Then take one deep breath that just might save you from becoming a complete idiot and focus on getting your breath and your sanity back before you speak again. If it’s possible leave the anger-provoking situation and come back to it when you’ve cooled down. If not then at least your breathing and the break you have created will help you deal with the situation a little more calmly.

If you do happen to blow a fuse every so often, don’t worry about it. Apologize and move on. And resolve to do better the next time.

This post first appeared on my blog at

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of The Walker on the Cape, a mystery set in Grand Bank, NL. For more information please visit


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