Anger Management ~ How To ~
Anger Management and Stress
The term 'anger management' is widely used now as if the subject stands alone. However, 'anger management' is simply an aspect of managing stress, since anger in the workplace is a symptom of stress. Anger is often stress in denial, and as such is best approached via one-to-one counselling. Training courses can convey anger management and stress reduction theory and ideas, but one-to-one counselling is necessary to turn theory into practice. Management of anger (and any other unreasonable emotional behaviour for that matter) and the stress that causes it, can only be improved if the person wants to change - acceptance, cognisance, commitment - so awareness is the first requirement. Some angry people take pride in their anger and don't want to change; others fail to appreciate the effect on self and others. Without a commitment to change there's not a lot that a manager or employer can do to help; anger management is only possible when the angry person accepts and commits to the need to change.
A big factor in persuading someone of the need to commit to change is to look objectively and sensitively with the other person at the consequences (for themselves and others) of their anger. Often angry people are in denial ("my temper is okay, people understand it's just me and my moods...."), so removing this denial is essential. Helping angry people to realise that their behaviour is destructive and negative is an important first step. Discuss the effects on their health and their family. Get the person to see things from outside themselves.
As with stress, the next anger management step is for the angry person to understand the cause of their angry tendency, which will be a combination of stressors and stress susceptibility factors. Angry people need help in gaining this understanding - the counsellor often won't know the reason either until rapport is established. If the problem is a temporary tendency then short-term acute stress may be the direct cause. Use one-to-one counselling to discover the causes and then agree necessary action to deal with them. Where the anger is persistent, frequent and ongoing, long-term chronic stress is more likely to be the cause. Again, counselling is required to get to the root causes. Exposing these issues can be very difficult, so great sensitivity is required. The counsellor may need several sessions in order to build sufficient trust and rapport.
The situation must be referred to a suitably qualified person whenever necessary, ie when the counsellor is unable to establish a rapport, analyse the causes, or agree a way forward. In any event if you spot the need for anger management in a person be aware that serious anger, and especially violence, is a clinical problem and so must be referred to a suitably qualified advisor or support group - under no circumstances attempt to deal with seriously or violently angry people via workplace counselling; these cases require expert professional help.
Establishing commitment to change and identifying the causes is sufficient for many people to make changes and improve - the will to change, combined with awareness of causes, then leads to a solution.
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- Anger management: “How do you transform a raging lion into a purring cat?”
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