Last night I was with my poker group, a small of men of varied professional backgrounds. The subject came up of anger management and what it is all about. I explained my 8-tools model of anger management which is oriented toward helping angry people control their anger. Suddenly, one of the group, a retired mathematics professor of Italian descent, stated ” I think anger management should be about teaching others to cope with my anger,because I am entitled to have it.” He was being a provocateur, of course, but it got me to thinking.
Is our society too sensitive about anger? Should we just “toughen up” and learn to to cope with angry people better?
The answer, of course, is that……it depends.
While coping with anger in others is often times an important part of anger management (because people tend to escalate each other in anger dances), the fact is, for most people it simply doesn’t work to try and convince them the problem is theirs and they should learn to cope with it. That is because many people “opt out” and simply don’t want to be with angry people.
Moreover, having to live in an angry environment often kills or at least severely injures all kinds of relationships. People in your life may learn to cope with you, as you would like, but they may stop loving you or they may stop trusting you in the process. In the workplace, they may stop giving their full efforts.
So, on a practical level, the philosophy that “it is their problem not mine,” does not work to solve the issues at hand. At the end of the day, it is you – the angry person – that has to do most of the changing if you want better or closer relationships with those people in your life who are upset with your anger.