My last job taught me I have anger management issues. I tend to go into paranoid thoughts that can escalate quickly and get me really worked up. As I found out through bitter experience, anger is mostly damaging, though it could be a good motivator at times.
When I recognize that I get worked up on some thought, I go into a routine I’ve developed:
- Don’t act on it: 50% of the time, my brain makes up a scenario of “what if.” It’s important to never react on these because nothing was said or done in reality. If I’m right and the other party acts first and triggers me, continue to step 2.
- No response: instead of acting on something that triggered me, give it the ignore treatment. There’s no need to respond to everything a person is saying, especially if I suspect they’re “trolling.” Shrugging, smiling and nodding, leaving the immediate environment (if possible) – all work well. If the other party is pressing for reaction, continue to step 3.
- Keep a cool head: allow time to respond, if needed. Use facts and evidence if possible to reinforce my case. Keep the response dry and factual, with as little emotion as possible. If the other party is not satisfied and keep pressing, continue to step 4.
- Remain cool in face of emotional reaction: by this time, it’s probably the other party that is reacting emotionally. At this point, I feel better already because I kept my cool so far. Remain cool and refuse to go into an angry fit, thus remain the “adult” in the room.
Most of the time, I do not need to go beyond step 2. I log events in my work journal (Org-mode), so I usually have evidence and facts to show when needed. Being able to vent in my journal and knowing I have this information helps me to maintain more control.