Constructive Anger … Possible?
Constructive Anger? Nah, impossible
Angry people want you to see how powerful they are… loving people want you to see how powerful you are. Chief Red Eagle
I’ve been talking to a guy who’s been having a tough time. Angryman’s distress (pressure) grew month after month. It brought an old saying to mind:
When you’re up to your ass in a swamp filled with crocodiles … it’s hard to remember your original objective was to drain the swamp.
Angryman’s fuse fizzed away. His exasperation revolved around four main issues:
- leaders not listening
- flawed decision-making
- people ducking responsibility
- being ignored
One day, after a tough time having his buttons pushed, Angryman fell on to a slippery slope of increasing rage, despair with strong feelings of being abused; all leading to a growing thirst for revenge.
It’s war …
On the sidelines, helping him off-load, I wondered how he would ever be able to communicate or cooperate with these people again. Boy! Angryman raved and raged! We talked about options short of murder; that was tough, it was so easy for him to fall back into fury as things escalated.
Oh no it’s not…
Some days later, out of the blue, he quoted Gandhi at me.
“First they ignore you; then they mock you; then they punish you. Then you win.”
I was taken aback; it isn’t what I expected right after his furious tirades and colourful expletives.
Constructive Anger (use of)
He decided to be helpful, ignore the trying circumstances and be what he called ‘professional’. This when he had these people over a barrel as a critical technical expert for a major project. Go figure.
Right at the point of being able to extract revenge, he responded to problems with positive and helpful support. So far it seems to be working. One of his colleagues told me a very senior person reported surprise at the cooperation. Funny thing, perception.
This non-aggressive choice, by a man who admits he isn’t a people person, took a lot of tension out of him. He calmed.
Did he establish improved relationships through his gentle approach? Seems so. Will the bad guys change and give him a positive response? To some extent.
Will mutual respect evolve? I can’t say, but I admire his courage and commitment in sticking with his programme.
From the sidelines I saw his courage again—yesterday, in fact. Made me feel good. Could I do the same? Good question … I don’t know. Maybe Gandhi was right.
© Mac Logan