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Jan 25

Tolerating Anger in Others

Posted by: Steve Marr

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In life we will encounter angry people. King Solomon understood this when he wrote, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” (Proverbs 29:11, NIV) Like most of us I have encountered angry people. When possible I prefer to avoid such individuals.  However, there are times I am unable to completely distance myself from them.
One example was “Mark” who was a member of a Homeowners Association who had a lot to say about many things.  In some meetings he would become belligerent to the point that most in the neighborhood didn’t want to deal with him.  In the vacuum that occurred when others failed to step up, Mark would decide issues for everyone else. This was unacceptable to me.  While there were times Mark was correct, there were enough times he was wrong. On several occasions when I stood up to Mark, he turned his anger toward me. While I didn’t enjoy being his target, I tried to respond appropriately. I continued to challenge the way he used anger to decide issues for everyone.


At times I’ve managed angry employees who seemed to believe that the stronger they made their point, the more control they could have in a situation.  While I do not like these types of confrontations, I realized early that I had a choice. I could either deal directly with the angry person or just let them have their way. I came to believe that letting someone have their way because of inappropriate anger was simply unacceptable.
In these situations the best advice is to follow King Solomon’s guidance when he wrote, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV) A wise business person once told me, “Never get into a contest with a skunk because even if you win the smell gets all over you.” Engaging in heated discussion is never productive. I found that if I couldn’t keep my emotions in check and maintain responsible behavior, I needed to step back and pick up the discussion at another time.
The key for all of us is not to allow the anger of others to control the situation or inappropriately influence decisions. At times if you watch television commentators, one thinks those who shout the loudest and longest prevail. This may or may not work on TV, but we should never allow this tactic to be successful in allowing someone to get their way. I don’t like absorbing the anger of others, but I have learned that I must, sometimes, for the good of my business and personal life. The sooner we accept this reality and act on it, the stronger our business leadership will be.
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