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Don’t let the anger overtake you July 19, 2010

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Financial Crisis, Uncategorized.
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There are many business situations that call for righteous indignation. There are none that deserve an anger leading to hate, whether directed internally at a colleague who has betrayed you or externally to a competitor who won’t cease spouting lies about you or your company.

You can go back to the basics, as shown in this brief video from Phyllis Davis:

http://www.videojug.com/expertanswer/human-interaction-in-american-business-2/it-is-appropriate-to-show-anger-in-business

Or you can accept the Darwinian thesis, as explained by Carol Tavris, PhD:

In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, written in 1872, [Charles] Darwin argued that rage is a simple response to threat, which requires an animal to become aroused to defend itself. In fact, Darwin actually defined rage as the motivation to retaliate: “Unless an animal does thus act, or has the intention, or at least the desire to attack its enemy, it cannot properly be said to be enraged.”

Tavris continues:

Darwin was a brilliant ethologist, but a poor psychologist. He had animal rage down cold, but human anger eluded him. His account of anger was oversimplified: Someone offends you, so you dislike him; your dislike turns to hatred; brooding over your hatred makes you angry. This progression of events is certainly possible, but by no means inevitable, or the only origin of anger. (Maybe it occurs the other way around for you: You hate someone’s values, and therefore dislike the person; your dislike turns to anger; your anger causes him to offend you.) Further, it seems that Darwin did not have to deal with inept bank tellers and surly checkout clerks, for he assumed that “if the offending person be quite insignificant, we experience merely disdain or contempt.” And he shared the delusion of his social class that a subordinate would never dare get angry with a superior: If the offending person is “all-powerful, then hatred passes into terror, as when a slave thinks about a cruel master.” Clearly Darwin had never been a slave.

Davis and Tavris demonstrate a couple of things worthy of note. Davis views anger from a business etiquette point of view. She begs the question: Is it really worth getting angry about anything in business since it can burn a bridge that you can never return and rebuild? Tavris presents it from Darwin’s humanistic point of view and demonstrates its many flaws.

What about anger from God’s point of view? Let’s look at the http://www.gotquestions.org website for an answer:

“Christian counselors report that 50 percent of people who come in for counseling have problems dealing with anger. Anger can shatter communication and tear apart relationships, and it ruins both the joy and health of many. Sadly, people tend to justify their anger instead of accepting responsibility for it. Everyone struggles, to varying degrees, with anger.

“Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.” God is angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5), and believers are commanded to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). Two Greek words are used in the New Testament for our English word “anger.” One means “passion, energy” and the other means “agitated, boiling.” Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems. Examples of biblical anger include Paul’s confronting Peter because of his wrong example in Galatians 2:11-14, David’s being upset over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice (2 Samuel 12), and Jesus’ anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18). Notice that none of these examples of anger involved self-defense, but a defense of others or of a principle.

“Anger turns to sin when it is selfishly motivated (James 1:20), when God’s goal is distorted (1 Corinthians 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Ephesians 4:26-27). Instead of using the energy generated by anger to attack the problem at hand, it is the person who is attacked. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Romans 3:13-14). Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Proverbs 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake, often with irreparable consequences. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside (Ephesians 4:26-27). This can cause depression and irritability over little things, often things unrelated to the underlying problem.”

You and I can think of a number of scenarios, real and imagined, where anger is justified, that “righteous indignation” that we can easily validate to God and self. We might be able to restrain ourselves so there is no public outburst but the ripples can manifest themselves in passive-aggressive behavior or lashing out at family, friends or those we equate as Darwin did, “beneath us”, who have no power to lash back (or wouldn’t dare, so we think).

When an insurance company attempts to diminish our loss, righteous indignation occurs. When we have been wrongfully accused of an act, righteous indignation ensues. When we believe a friend or colleague has wronged us, or worse, betrayed a trust, there is righteous indignation.

What pushes us over the edge from Biblical righteous indignation to destructive anger leading to hate? And, what is the logical and emotional outcome of acting on the anger leading to hate? Is there a positive benefit to “bottling it up” or not acting on it? These are all tough questions and it led me back to http://www.gotquestions.org:

“We can handle anger biblically by not returning evil for good (Genesis 50:21; Romans 12:21). This is key to converting our anger into love. As our actions flow from our hearts, so also our hearts can be altered by our actions (Matthew 5:43-48). That is, we can change our feelings toward another by changing how we choose to act toward that person.

“We can handle anger biblically by communicating to solve the problem. There are four basic rules of communication shared in Ephesians 4:15, 25-32:

1) Be honest and speak (Ephesians 4:15, 25). People cannot read our minds. We must speak the truth in love.

2) Stay current (Ephesians 4:26-27). We must not allow what is bothering us to build up until we lose control. Dealing with and sharing what is bothering us before it gets to that point is important.

3) Attack the problem, not the person (Ephesians 4:29, 31). Along this line, we must remember the importance of keeping the volume of our voices low (Proverbs 15:1).

4) Act, not react (Ephesians 4:31-32). Because of our fallen nature, our first impulse is often a sinful one (v. 31). The time spent in “counting to ten” should be used to reflect upon the godly way to respond (v. 32) and to remind ourselves how anger is to be used to solve problems and not create bigger ones.

Finally, we must act to solve our part of the problem (Acts 12:18). We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Overcoming a temper is not accomplished overnight. But through prayer, Bible study, and reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit, ungodly anger can be overcome. Just as we may have allowed anger to become entrenched in our lives by habitual practice, we must also practice responding correctly until it becomes a habit itself.”

At this point, you and I can find peace and calm after a mighty storm of emotion. In business, we must “keep our cool”. With family and friends, we must be shelters from the storms, not create the very storms we should be defending ourselves and loved ones from. As it was stated earlier, this is not easy to do in a fallen world. But the love of God shows brightest even to the darkest stranger when we demonstrate our righteous indignation without the anger that leads to hate.

What have you found to help you deal with your righteous indignation in business, home or anywhere you are?

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