Bethany Rentz Bethany Rentz

Dealing with Angry People

23 Feb 2013

For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I came across the above quote today on a wall hanging at a home decor store in Kirkland. It was timely because yesterday I attended a PMI breakfast session on "Disruptive/Aggressive People: How to Prevent Angry Outbursts" presented by Wallace Wilkins, Ph.D. I notice in myself I tend to get angry with people both in the work place and at home and I know it's not productive.

One of the key messages from Wally is that you can learn something but you have to keep practicing it in order to become fluent (it doesn't come naturally). So at the end of the session I was very excited about the tools I've learned to eliminate my anger. A great example he gave is changing your perspective about something. When you are in a meeting, if someone's cell phone goes off, usually people react with anger. But in that same meeting if someone sneezes, people feel compassion and will take the time to say "bless you" (further interrupting the meeting). During the 1 hour session, we tried out saying "bless you" to the person when their cell phone went off - to learn about changing your perspective. It was a change, but became easier with practice.

Another point that resonated with me is that usually anger or resentment is caused by your sense of entitlement (that the other person probably doesn't even know that you are owed). Examples of entitlements that I sometimes feel include:

  • Entitlement to Freedom from Control & Supervision
  • Entitlement to knowledgeable, well-motivated people (no idiots)
  • Entitlement to peace

And if those entitlements aren't met, I tend to feel frustrated, and sometimes angry. I'm going to try over the next 21 days to change my perspective and not feel entitled or anger with people. Especially since life is too short to waste it feeling angry and irritated - I'd rather spend my time feeling happy!

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