If someone takes issue with something someone else does or says, how he/she expresses that anger makes a difference. If their reaction to the infraction is inappropriate, the message they are trying to convey gets lost. The focus shifts to the person’s reaction and not the incident that provoked it.

An example is if your coworker does not return your telephone calls. This slows up a project you are working on together. Normally, this would be an issue that could be resolved through a discussion with him or notifying a supervisor. This co-worker’s behavior would be the focus of concern. Interventions would be directed with that in mind. However, if you send off angry and unprofessional emails, swear, or yell at him, the focus shifts to your behavior (reaction) not his (infraction). 

If your goal is behavior change (getting your coworker to answer your telephone calls) then you are most likely falling short. The interactions you are having become the area of concern. The problem that you are addressing becomes secondary to your behavior. 

Acknowledging that your reactions (anger management) have become an issue is the first step. Discovering more effective ways to communicate first starts with tempering your own emotions (frustration, anger). Here are some suggestions.

  • Identify your self-talk. What are you saying to yourself that creates the emotions?
  • Recognize triggers to your anger. When does it happen? With whom? Identifying patterns can help put a plan of action into place.
  • Evaluate lifestyle choices that can contribute to irritability and temperament. This would include alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise.
  • Practice better communication techniques. Use “I” statements to present your concerns. 
  • If your problem persists, seek some professional help. Anger management problems can ruin employment, family, and relationships.