How do you react under pressure? Do you boil over with rage or stay cool as a cucumber? Controlling your emotions is a learned skill for many advisors — it doesn’t always come naturally, especially when you land in hot water.
When you feel yourself hitting the edge, try some of these methods for dissolving your anger and avoiding a similar situation in the future:
Bottling up your emotions is a quick fix. When you feel a bad emotion coming on, the initial reaction is to avoid it, but suppressing your emotions, pretending like they don’t exist is not a productive strategy.
Here’s why suppressing your emotions is not a solution to anger:
Now, just because you shouldn’t suppress your emotions, doesn’t mean you should let ‘em rip, next time your temper is tested…
Next time you’re ready to run to a colleague and vent, consider the drawbacks of how your altered mindset could come back to bite you.
Venting has a nasty way of intensifying your emotions, beyond what you actually feel — it just adds fuel to the fire. Once you’ve built that fire up, putting it out can be much more difficult. There’s a difference between constructively voicing your concerns and snowballing your anger to unmanageable proportions.
Distraction can ease your mind in moments of tension.
Believe it or not, your brainpower has a cap; when your resources are spent, the wheels stop turning quite so fast.
Think of it as “delayed gratification” — if you’re able to distract your emotions, hold out on your reaction for just a little bit longer, then you can cope with them fully. While you distract yourself, your brain has a chance to cool down and switch off the stress signals.
So, how should you distract yourself?
Imagine you’re in a meeting with a particularly difficult client. They’ve spent most of the time criticizing and complaining, although last time you met, the encounter was much different.
You can’t place your finger on what exactly has them riled up, but their overall demeanor and attitude it pushing you to the edge. The human reaction would be to fire back, give ‘em a taste of their own medicine.
But, what if I told you, their parent just died, or their child is in the hospital? Would that change things? Their behavior is the same, the situation is the same, yet now, the context is different. Instead of getting overwhelmingly angry at their uncalled-for behavior, you might even feel something like understanding or compassion for them.
When emotions are running high, reappraise the situation and train your mind to look at things differently. Just think, “it’s not me, it’s them.” When you change your perceptions of a situation, you can change your emotions, as well.
Emotions are a direct reaction of how you perceive the world. When it’s a sunny day, and everything’s going your way, your mood is probably a happy one. When you’re being thrown endless curveballs and can’t find your footing, your emotional response is likely a negative one.
Luckily, reappraisal is a tool you can use in a variety of situations:
Be careful how you use it because reappraisal can also reinforce negative emotions. For example, when you’re angry you might think, “everyone is out to get me!” That is also reappraisal but in the wrong direction.
Individuals who have mastered the art of reappraisal have better relationships, both personal and professional, as they’re more successful in dealing with and responsibly expressing emotions. Reappraisal also strengthens your willpower, as it takes immense self-control.
It’s not always easy, but the underlying solution to dealing with anger, or any negative emotion is compassion — for others and yourself. Finally, when someone gets on your bad side (as they inevitably will), forgive them.
Forgiveness is the quickest, healthiest way to dissipate anger and get over it.