Anger evolved from the eruption of terror that early man experienced when he encountered a saber tooth tiger, at least that’s the current neuroscience on it. Actually, the latest thinking on all emotions is that they stem from our most primitive response mechanism. That is: every emotion has the potential to stimulate approach behaviors (fight) or avoidance behaviors (flight). So rather than label emotions as “good” or “bad,” now scientists and psychologists are simply looking at our brains to see what we do with anger as well as the other feelings we have.
When faced with a perceived threat today, we remain equipped with a fight or flight response that primitive man felt in the face of a saber-toothed tiger. However, a more enduring legacy of primitive man is our defensive response to another kind of threat. That response is anger in the face of someone undervaluing you.
Now you know the single greatest source of your anger! Now you know that when someone really makes you mad, or makes you feel peeved, miffed, irritated, annoyed or otherwise ruffled around your feathers: it’s not the issue at hand. It’s you!
Anger erupts when you feel less than accounted for, or undervalued.
That’s what successful people know. And, so they control their response to the angering stimuli, according to what they want to achieve in the moment or in the long term.
Surprisingly, anger in this context has a hugely important, valuable and positive role in business that most organizational psychologists and coaches miss completely.
The latest research shows that anger has at least three highly effective outcomes, when channeled appropriately.
1. Anger makes you optimistic
When you feel angry rather than anxious, you actually are focusing on the rewards that you feel you can achieve – and are entitled to.
2. Anger makes you a leader
When you appear to be angry and carry on an intense conversation or presentation, you ignite the desire to follow you and please you. Steve Jobs is famous for his anger, although he wasn’t concerned with controlling it – which led to his spotty work history at the company he founded. Beware.
3. Anger makes you practical
When you are angry, your attention is laser-focused on the offending issue. That gives you great problem-solving skills, and the ability to focus on the solution.
Do you have a story about how anger helped you succeed? I’d love to hear it! Email me at [email protected]. Subject line: Anger.