Why it’s sometimes good to get angry in business
Things have changed. Us Brits are nowhere near as buttoned up as we once were. We’re getting better at expressing our emotions. But we still tend to disapprove of anger. Most of us see it as a wholly negative emotion, something to be avoided at all costs and hidden if it raises its ugly head.
Are we on the right track? Or is it time to let the monster loose for better business and personal relationships?
Anger’s place in evolution
At an evolutionary level, anger must have a purpose. If it was useless or dangerous we’d have outgrown it at genetic level by now and everyone would be eerily calm. Even in our relatively safe world anger motivates us, helps us avoid danger and boosts our chances of survival in threatening circumstances.
It makes sense. Imagine you’re in a situation where a bunch of you face a common threat. Anger can prompt collective action, which ensures your survival. If we all just sat on our asses grinning, the world could easily crumble around our silly heads.
Did Aristotle get it right?
2000 years ago Aristotle said, “Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everyone’s power, that is not easy”. It looks as though intelligently-placed, aimed and handled anger was prized in his day. Was he right?
Scientists diss the stiff upper lip
Road rage and riots are bad. But there’s growing scientific evidence that anger can also be beneficial.
Post-September 11th research showed that people who were angry about terrorism were more optimistic about the future than those who were scared out of their wits Bin Laden might show up on the doorstep wanting to borrow a cup of sugar.
Another study proved that when you’re in an infuriating situation, where anger is justified, you’re much more likely to experience higher levels of overall emotional well-being. People who allow themselves to get cross when the situation merits it also score higher for emotional intelligence, which in itself suggests anger has its uses.
Using anger positively in business
It seems a good idea to follow Aristotle’s advice, using anger as a tool rather than a weapon. If you can manage to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, in the right way, it might prove a very useful skill.
You might nip unruly or lazy employee behaviour smartly in the bud before it goes too far and causes you real problems. It might help a customer realise where reasonable boundaries lie. It might help you negotiate fair prices and it could even support gentle, polite yet 100% firm credit control!
If you’re not sure your anger is justified, ask someone else. Find someone who isn’t scared to tell you when you’re being unreasonable or over-sensitive and you won’t make a tit of yourself!