Jan 12, 2014

PHILOSOPHY OF ANGER

Anger is a part of human expression to show displeasure to a cause or action. It is the natural outburst of an antagonizing situation. Anger is the facial presentation of resentment towards somebody. It is also reflected by the body language and is an aggravated form of human emotions. It is an emotional response to a perceived threat, insult or provocation. The effects of anger can be positive or negative depending upon the context and the way it is expressed. The qualitative expression of anger may enhance determination and one’s own perspective, resulting in positive actions. One may become resolute in moving towards their goal or ambition. It may also lift one’s morale and charge the value system. On the flip side, it may be destructive and prohibit control over action and the process of thinking. In its strong form, it may impair a person’s thoughtfulness, prudence and empathy towards fellow human beings or other living creatures. Nonsensical anger may hurt another people emotionally and psychologically. In the worst scenario, an angry person may physically harm himself or others.

When we compare humans with the animal kingdom, then we find that they become angry only when they are starving or provoked. In comparison, human intelligence has the ability to understand the difference between threats and provocation on a much finer scale. As a matter of fact, we as humans must react and show our anger when unnecessarily incited, insulted, inflicted, indicted, impugned, and indulged. Anger is also a power and strength to project the prowess of personality and keeps the incoming mental, physical or psychological injury away. As the proverb goes “an apple a day keeps the doctors away’, controlled and thoughtful anger keeps perceived threat away. Whereas controlled anger is a power of self defense, uncontrolled anger is self immolation.

Therefore, I am forced to analyze, is anger an absolute necessity to survive in society? Does anger have any place in a civilized world? What are the parameters for living in a civilized world? To become angry on a perceived provocation can be understood but what about showing anger on every small event in life? Do the level of anger and its presentation depend upon the education, culture, environment or background of a person?  If the onset of anger has something to do with the lack of education and unruly background of people then why can’t the educated, cultured and so called sophisticated people in our society get along together and withstand their partners, friends or relatives for a long period of time?  Why is the rate of divorce the highest in modern society more compared to the rural areas?  Why is the level of tolerance low in families and society resulting in disagreements and divorces due to uncontrolled anger and understanding?

The purpose of my writing on the topic is not to touch the psychological, medical or behavioral aspects and cognitive effects of anger on human personality and relationships, but to analyze holistically whether uncontrolled anger is a temperamental disorder or a personality flaw. If it is a temperamental disorder, then the person affected from this does more harm for himself than the person they are upset with, and needs to utilize anger management. If it is a personality flaw then we have to think what humanly qualities separate us from illiterates and unruly people in the world. If even after acquiring higher education, we have not been able to control our minds, then have we become educated and civilized? I personally believe educated minds should know the art of controlling human ills and weaknesses. If we could not learn the art of self control and anger management even after going to the top universities and proudly possessing PHDs, MBAs, or other professional and technical degrees of the highest standards, then something is seriously wrong either in our education system, culture, religion or upbringing.

By writing this article, I do not have any intention to insult anybody knowingly or unknowingly but to discuss on this topic philosophically in understanding the root causes of anger. Some world famous people have also echoed my words and I would like to quote a few in order to throw light on the gravity of this major flaw in the human personality.

Albert Einstein has quoted ‘Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools’. We may not take the literal sense of his quote but as per Einstein, those who cannot control their anger may be considered illiterate and uncultured. Their understanding of life is too shallow and as such they may be called as fools.

Mahatma Gandhi has quoted- ‘Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding’. If we analyze this statement of Gandhi, then we understand that those who lack tolerance and control on their temperaments cannot go together with sane people or those who have the knowledge of life and humanly qualities.

Nineteenth century American essayist, poet and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson has quoted- ‘For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind’. This statement is so poetic and true. Angry people or those who have no control on their temperaments cannot understand the value of peace in mind which has the tranquilizing effects on our personality and provides an opportunity to think coolly and find alternatives to a difficult situation. This is possible only by way of reasoning and self control.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States has bitterly rebuked this flaw in the human personality by saying- ‘Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame’.  Since the bout of anger blinds our process of logical thinking, we use foul or insulting languages or act in uncivilized ways which ends in disgrace and loss of respect.

Mark Twain, the famous American writer and humorist has very rightly mentioned the ill effects of anger on people by saying- ‘ Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured’. Mark Twain was so right. As per the recent studies, those who become angry very frequently may suffer from high blood pressure, insomnia; arthrosclerosis- build up of fatty plaques in arteries; heart disease, headaches, digestive imbalance, anxiety, heart attack and stroke.

If we make the historical analysis of human race, then we find that when the society was still in the process of developing, ‘might was the right’ for survival and on the slightest provocation people used to become angry and kill each other. As the civilization grew and societies evolved, norms and rules were laid for the people to behave in a civilized manner. The purpose of social norms and code of conduct is to put a control on the animalistic behavior present in the human race. Over a period of time, this metamorphic tendency has subsided but is still present in us and keeps surfacing with little provocation. 

Therefore, if we think that we are out of the Stone Age and now in the twenty first century we are qualitatively educated and civilized, then we must restrain ourselves from mental aggravation and imbalances.

To my mind, people may be very well educated (from the worldly point of view) but they lack the knowledge and understanding of spiritualism. The knowledge and practice of spiritualism induces a person to reason on the root causes of every problem and puts a restrain on prima facie reactions.  As per project management, every project is temporary and unique in its characteristics. Its scope and deliverable is different, and as such project managers handle them differently and manage accordingly. Likewise, every person on earth is temporary and a unique piece created by nature -- their mental, emotional and spiritual characteristics are different. Therefore two humans cannot think and act similarly for a long period of time. Being unique pieces, their temperaments and mental levels will be different and at some point of time they will definitely behave differently than the other person.

Because people act differently as per their true nature and characteristics, they cannot be wrong as far as they are concerned. It is up to the other person to understand this dissimilarity and accept the person with their qualities or flaws.  If we do not, then the fault lies within us that of wanting the other person to act or behave as per our desire or likings.

If we understand the above fundamental principles and the root cause of the makings of a human personality and nature then we will never get angry with any person unless we are deliberately or shamelessly provoked or our lives are put in danger.

In our social lives we do not get angry often with our employer or colleagues for the fear of getting non-cooperative responses or losing the job. This keeps our ego and anger on hold. Even if we feel insulted or humiliated at the work place we practice a controlled and passive response to the situation. Whereas in our personal lives we do not apply the same control and restrain and take the relationships for granted. This results in discontentment, frustration, depression and differences with our spouses, children, relatives or friends.  As a result, we cannot pull on for long with them. If we know how to control our emotions at the work place then why we do not apply the same principles in our personal lives. This shows the duality and duplicity of nature which is very common in the so-called educated and modern society.

Therefore, anger is a necessity if used qualitatively otherwise it is self destructive and a major flaw in human personality.  I will look forward for your constructive comments on the topic for the enlightenment of our readers.

I will also like to ask my professional colleagues worldwide, what they think about the use of anger in professional life. Does it make a difference in relationships with their employers, contractors or in professional lives?

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year 2014.

Suman Saran Sinha, CMC
A pursuer of logical quest

34 comments:

Richard A Adams said...

What a great question!

Yes, I believe CONTROLLED anger does have a place and I would prefer to call it "extreme disappointment." We have to behave with integrity and not showing disappointment lacks integrity. We cannot convey the gravity of a situation unless we raise and talk about it. I believe we learn from our mistakes and unless those are brought to our attention we lose the ability to learn. Anger/disappointment must always be expressed in private, We don't need to reinforce our feelings by swearing, hitting, or throwing things. Do not let it burn within you - get it out.

Maxwell Pinto said...

Anger is a normal human emotion that must be controlled! Failure to control anger can lead to problems that could affect the overall quality of one’s life. It is accompanied by physiological and biological changes: your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. You could be angry at a person, such as a co-worker, or an event, such as a traffic jam or a canceled flight, or on recalling traumatic or enraging events. One could argue that a certain amount of anger is necessary for survival. Anger can be dealt with by expressing, suppressing, or calming.

Expressing anger may actually aggravate an existing situation. Try focusing on the root cause of anger and work towards eliminating it. Demonstrations of anger can have legal implications, as in the cases of Naomi Campbell and Russell Crowe. Ms. Campbell's way of dealing with this problem is by looking at the gloves she wore when working as a New York City sanitation worker, as part of her punishment for assaulting her former maid, Ana Scolavino.

Russell Crowe, a Hollywood bad boy, was arrested in New York in 2005 on charges of assault and possession of a weapon for (allegedly) throwing a telephone that struck an employee of a hotel in the face. Initially, Mr. Crowe made excuses for his behavior, but later on, when interviewed by David Letterman, he publicly apologized to the hotel employee and paid him a six figure settlement, possibly to avoid a civil lawsuit.

At one of his rock concert performances, Mr. Crowe threw in a humorous twist by displaying a golden replica of the telephone in question. Also, while hosting the Australian Film Industry Awards, Mr. Crowe showed the audience an old-fashioned telephone and added, “If there are any problems and you do get up here and go on too long, then (say) ‘hello’ to my little friend.”

While performing in a play in Australia, Mr. Crowe head-butted a fellow actor for screaming at him and calling him names. He explained that his colleagues tried to restrain him by holding his arms, and that his head was therefore “all I had left to hit him with and he f------ deserved it.” Mr. Crowe believes that anger is a prerequisite for survival and that “… holding and suppressing (anger) is … bull----.”

The world seems to abound with anger. Problems associated with defiant children and domestic violence are at critical levels worldwide. Some minors are being excluded from schools because of displays of anger and violence towards teachers, fellow students and school property. Corporate performance is being undermined by stress and violence in the workplace. These issues must be addressed in a timely manner, otherwise there will be dire consequences!

Moe Schwartz said...

This is the first time that I ever heard of using anger in professional life, What ever made you think of this question? Anger and business relationship can not be rationally said in the same sentence. My traditions have told me that "anger takes you out of this world", it colors your decisions, and you can't do business when you are not present.

Anger, or better said the energy that anger produces, can only be seen as something positive when it motivates the person feeling anger to actually improve something or some situation. Aristotle wrote; "The man who is angry at the right things and with the right people, and further, as he ought, when he ought, and as long as he ought, is praised." When angry, having a calm, controlled conversation or thinking about what's bothering you, and how you'd like to address the issue, then anger can be immensely good for you. In studies evaluating anger, participants have described properly controlled anger as an illuminating force, helping to identify both faults and strengths and solutions.

The reality is that anger in business is only good for those that provide anger management courses.

Andre Sharp said...

I am not sure there is anything wrong in showing anger - which may easily be just a sign of frustration. However, what is problematic is how that anger is displayed or manifested.

Ray Young said...

There will always be situations where anger is an appropriate response. The trick is to apply that angry response from a rational standpoint. That is, it's ok to throw your toys out of the pram when the situation warrants it but not to do so in a temper tantrum.

There is a clear difference between thumping on your desk to let someone understand how annoying their actions or inactions are and just losing control because things are not going as you would like.

Your moods are a part of your management toolkit and should be applied as thoughtfully as any other tool. being cheerful and full of praise where it is deserved and offering rebukes where they are needed.

Sondra Larkin said...

I differ, somewhat, with the definition of "anger" expressed in the article. It is my opinion that anger, in and of itself, is a natural reaction or displeasure to a cause or action and NOT the outburst. While we might feel a strong disagreement to an event, it is up to the individual how they express that anger. Now, of course, there are the quick body responses (i.e. facial expressions) that might show, but beyond our natural reflexes, the rest is up to us. Anger must be kept in check. It is not good, when we allow it to change to aggression, whereby we become verbally or physically abusive.

Anger, can, however, prove useful. For instance, during contract negotiations. Anger might be a positive reaction to stress the importance of an opposing position. In the field of construction, there are many concerns that cannot be taken lightly, and can be cause for us to become passionate. There is the safety of workers during construction, and there are those awful unforeseen conditions and rising costs that occur, just to mention a couple.

In the end, it is how we conduct ourselves, when we feel anger. Whether professionally or personally, we should suppress any feelings to show threatening aggression.

Amjad Mirza said...

Anger is natural and it comes when it comes. We cannot fight Nature

Jens Rieder said...

Anger is natural - agree. However it cannot be part of work life and needs to be controlled. At the end of the day shouting hardly ever finds a solution. Better start analyzing the problems.

Robert Petrie said...

Anger is natural. It is how we express that anger that will determine the resolution to the challenge that brought on the anger response.

Minesh Gandhi said...

I liked it.

Romana Picchietti said...

I liked it.

Rajesh Singh said...

Very nice article Suman Ji
My personal experience is that Anger is just people's habit and acting. People just act and react anger whenever they feel.
We don't see thing as they are
We see them as we want them to be!

Navdeep Anand said...

Good work Sumanji

Balu Nagarajan said...

Yes..,Anger is just like any other emotion sprung naturally; but it has to be channelized productively in a controlled manner to avoid conflict or confrontation in a work situation.

Sadrollah Alborzi said...

Anger should be managed.

Jim Mirza said...

in consulting as in life anger does not get us the desired outcome, there are proactive and reactive mitigating & intervention strategies which when applied properly get us the desired outcomes!!

Maris Blaus said...

Though anger arise naturally, they have to be controlled. There are employees to whom anger creates a more prominent effect

Luiz Nascimento said...

Anger is an extreme reaction and should be avoided: it will cause much more harm than good, people relationship deteriorates, even for those that were not targeted. Strongly emotional reactions should be avoided or, as Maris says, controlled. And Jim, yes, in consulting anger is disastrous.

Bala A Kumar said...

Anger is part of emotion and no need to control it has to be expressed but momentary and not to carry forward to act/react... if it is momentary and you get back normal with the situation and express ... the purpose... it is all right and that is the way it need to be.

Simone Einstoss, Brussels, Belgium said...

I really enjoyed this article. Thanks.

I think anger can indeed be useful, for as long as we don't manifest it immediately. It is better to cool down before saying or doing hurtful things.

But we have to manifest our discontent with the action of somebody else if we believe that it was not right (part of conflict management).

If we do not manifest our insatisfaction in a balanced way, others may think that we are weak, and they can treat us in whatever way that pleases them.

Michael Harwood, Alabama, USA said...

Conflict can be a good thing if managed appropriately. Anger is a natural consequence of the frustration which emerges in intense situations. If you have a bunch of type A personalities working in a high stress situation, tempers are going to flare. The questions is whether it will be channeled into something productive. Obviously, channeling that into undermining each other is not positive. However, that anger can unveil and consequently ultimately solve a previously unrealized problem.

Ogbonnaya Chukwuma, Nigeria said...

But how do you get the recipients of anger to see the values in allowing people to get angry and how can people channel anger properly as a positive emotion. I think that caution should be exercised in expressing anger. Secondly, anger should not be about people but about issues

Jacob Bunter, California said...

Anger can be cathartic. But use it wisely.

Sandra Miller-Buchanan, Australia said...

A wise man once told me, for every action there will be a reaction, Anger is one of these. However, not a professional expression, it will only cause disharmony and unrest. Usually resulting in a response that you didn't ask for.

Lucy Mthembu, South Africa said...

I think Anger is bad,especial on work environment,those people shows/tells with their action that they have problems from their families.Anger will never bring good results at work environment,It greets negativity around people and bad energies,I ended up working for myself because of the bad Boss I use to have.Those people with Anger makes others feel small all the time.They never see good in anything it is difficult to satisfy them,It is just a bad thing.

Neil Buys Ph.D, Johannesburg, South Africa said...

Good read indeed

Esther Johnson, Cape Town, South Africa said...

The use of anger in professional environments leads to disrespect and serious conflict. It should be nipped the second it starts. Maturity is what is needed to deal with conflict.

Bomi Jackson, Qatar said...

Anger is unavoidable. But managing anger when provoked is a great professional strength. Its the worst form of dispute resolution because it doesn't give room for negotiation/collaboration, and the long run is that people; including your employees, contractors and colleagues avoid you. It's equally a demonstration of fear-driven leadership described by Deming as the worst form of leadership. People lose confidence in you as a means of solving their problems and this is a terrible corporate concern.

Jagannath Thakur, Toronto said...

Dear Suman:

Thanks for sending this thoughtful article.

Anger is a basic human quality. It varies in degree with individuals and that may be because of a large number of factors which you have elaborated.

One aspect that I learned when I was young is from Mahabharat. Yudhishtir was confronted with a situation which made him angry. He as the king was supposed to give his decision. But being 'dharma putra' he immediately postponed the decision because he said he cannot decide when angry,

Jagannath

Amzad Mirza, Pakistan said...

why anger is taken in negative connotation? angry young man is the one who does miracles. anger spells out of agitation. anger is the force that ushers out of an insect trapped in round invert sea shell. the insect dies but leave a pearl, so valuable, for us to dive deep in sea to bring pearls out and make money and for women to wear to add on to their beauty. Anger is an attitude. Jinnah was angry over the biased and prejudiced behavior of British inasmuch as Congress. He settle for nothing less than Pakistan eventually

Sadrollah Alborzi, California, USA said...

Following my previous notes,my research and experience will indicate that anger is related to culture,training, education,age,maturity,situational factors (both internal and external) ,society, and health.
Important point is that a mature and logical man/woman should be able to manage anger in different situations (organization,society,family,and etc) With friendly and nice attitude and behavior we will be able to get much better results.People do not like anger attitude and behavior.Please do not forget SMILE.
With best wishes,
Sadrollah Alborzi
Irvine,California

Rahul Shastri, India said...

Anger may be unprovoked or provoked. Provoked anger can be explained in the context of current circumstances. Hereafter, the term “anger” will be used to denote provoked anger only, as Sinha ji has done.

Negative effects of anger:
What do we mean when we say that anger is a negative emotion? We have seen that in some situations, it can even be constructive! However, when anger is not reversed or reversible, it attracts and accumulates negative energies in some chakras. In cases of extreme anger, there is a drain of spiritual energy and sometime even damage to the shield of a person. All this, ultimately or immediately, manifests in various physical ailments.

Definition:
Anger is an emotion triggered by an inability to accept inadequate ability to control an “other” that is causing pain.

Controllability:
The element of control, implying controllability is implied. We are angered by a horse, a dog, or other domesticated animals when they refuse to be controlled, and cause us pain. The pain could be physical like the horse overthrowing you, or the dog biting you. It could be psychological pain, by refusing to fulfil your expectations by obeying your command. In contrast, nobody is angered if a tiger or lion bites him, or refuses to listen to him. Neither are we angered by the weather, or the trees and rocks, even if they cause us agony.

Psychological pain:
Modern civilisation has minimised the incidence of physical pain, while proliferating the sources of psychological pain. Many of them originate from unfulfilled expectations. In most of the following, we shall focus on psychological pain, although often actual physical hurt, as in domestic violence may also obtain.

Acceptance and control:
Mere pain, generates only suffering, not anger ... especially when one accepts one’s inadequate control over the other’s behaviour. Thus, when the dog is kicked by his master, he only yelps, because it has accepted that it is not in control of the master’s behaviour. Acceptance, breeds quietude and suffering not anger. On the other hand, if one does not accept, one can adequately control the other’s behaviour and change it to meet one’s expectations. That eliminates pain and anger has no ground to stand on.

Inadequate control:
However, when control over the other is inadequate and one cannot accept it, the feeling of anger ensues. For instance, the pain of unfulfilled expectations can lead one spouse to communicate to the other, through subtle messages, body language, or explicit communication. If this fails, inadequate control is recognised, and inability to handle it results in the emotion of anger... This is also true of parent child relations.

Anger as control:
Anger that is triggered in such situations has the primary function of effectuating control by breaking the resistance of the other, in principle.

Anuloma anger:
This happens when it flows along approved social norms and rules. In such situations, it is preferable that anger be calculated, calibrated and reversible, in order not to cause self-injury, which is possible in the case of excessive or bottled up anger (this is discussed later under “unprovoked anger”). Even in such situations, if the other has inadequate abilities, mere effectuating of control will not suffice, and anger will serve no purpose, other than multiplying and injuring one’s self.

Pratiloma anger:
When anger flows against the line of controls prescribed social or cultural norms, however, it can be ineffective and counterproductive. If an employee shows anger to the boss, he is likely to be fired. Similarly when anger militates against cultural norms, it is unlikely to succeed, and may actually be penalised. Children may get beaten by parents, and wives by husbands in a patriarchal ambience. More importantly, because it is not effective, such anger may be bottled up and burst out in other contexts in the form of “unprovoked anger”.

Rahul Shastri, India said...

Unprovoked anger:
Unprovoked anger can be manufactured or spontaneous.

i. manufactured anger
Recognising its usefulness in effectuating control, people can manufacture it to meet a situation. Such manufactured anger can be built on the narrow ground of irritation, or notions of hierarchy, or from nursed grievances. While this is common among administrators, mass manufacture of such anger is to be often witnessed in rabble rousing. Such anger is in-fructuous, if the other has intrinsic inability to deliver, or he resists the assault.

ii. spontaneous anger
Spontaneous unprovoked anger is what we often see at home. It may result from the pain from bottled up anger or stress in other situations, or at other times, manifesting in spontaneous explosions of anger. Since it is a spontaneous explosion, and not manufactured, it can easily gather momentum and go out of hand and to extremes.
Negative effects of anger:

What do we mean when we say that anger is a negative emotion? We have seen that in some situations, it can even be constructive! However, when anger is not reversed or reversible, it attracts and accumulates negative energies in some chakras. In cases of extreme anger, there is a drain of spiritual energy and sometime even damage to the shield of a person. All this, ultimately or immediately, manifests in various physical ailments.
Reversal or dissipation:

The trick, therefore, in manufactured anger that is used for control, is to feign or simulate it, something that parents often do. The next best thing is to make it reversible or dissipate it.

Some people try to do this by distracting the mind into other directions, like music. The trick is to find a distraction that also heals emotionally. Listening to Pink Floyd after a bout of anger, to my mind, is adding injury to injury ... (May be I am prejudiced about Pink Floyd!). The same thing is true of dissipating the stress and suppressed anger in a bottle. If one must drink, and drinks do not disagree, I would suggest half a peg or one, and light liquor like wine may be preferable to hard liquor. But this is rule of thumb, and everyone must find his own measure.

Sp. Anger: removing roots:
How does one deal with unprovoked spontaneous anger? The problem here, is that being spontaneous, it is uncontrolled and can become extreme and cause direct injury... So the roots have to be diagnosed and removed...

Psychological counsellors go into the conscious and unconscious past to identify the source of the pain ... how they treat it then, I do not know ... If the source is to be found pain bottled up in a current but different situation, then people are advised to change their behaviour, the ambience in the office, or change the place of work itself, I presume. What is done for damage inflicted in the past I do not know.

There is an alternative method of treatment, through methods like pranic healing. This may provide no relief, temporary relief, or lasting relief, depending upon the peculiarities of each case. Long lasting pain of any origin, pain from unfulfilled expectations hardened into grievances, contaminate chakras, or are in some instance found lodged as “hardened pieces” in the spiritual body. By pranic healing these may be removed ... and the chakras healed ...

The problem lies in the prevention of resumption. If the mind, consciously or sub-consciously, wont let go the source of pain, the problem resumes. For this reason, conscious efforts have to accompany the spiritual treatment. Letting go, letting go of the source of pain, letting go of expectations that are not or cannot be fulfilled, is a very important part of this process.

Rahul Shastri, India said...

Supplementary methods that help this process can involve meditation, control of diet, good company, practice of elevating thoughts and so on. But it is ultimately, the decision and the will of the individual concerned... whether he wants to hold or let go...

Many people hold on the sources of pain, to grievances, etc., possibly because they are a source of self-identity. Hence, a direct introduction to their higher Self, seems logically likely to encourage them to let go of negativity, and turn their efforts into a positive direction. ... But somethings are ingrained, born of samskaras, or past karmas, or as modern science has it ... ingrained in the sub-conscious... If human efforts hit this wall ... only a true Guru can help ...

Meditation and love:
Although meditation detaches one from identification with the external and emotional self, one can still be surprised into anger. This is because, by itself, meditation is only an intellectual effort to control the senses, and focus consciousness. Until it succeeds in a higher experience, and learns to stabilise in it, it cannot transform the personality.

The best antidote to the negative emotion of anger, is to cultivate the positive emotion of love ... I have not studied the technology of love, but only speak from subjective experience ...

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