Anger, a sign of hysteria?
What happens when someone gets angry? It obviously depends greatly on cultures and personalities. However, quite often, it’s not really recommended in the professional sphere. It’s the sign that a person is losing their temper, and thus the control of the situation. Anger also leads us to make impulsive and irrational decisions. “Anger is a bad counselor” as they say so well.
And the atmosphere and team spirit can be affected by these mood swings.
When, after graduation, I went to Nigeria, I didn’t really know how to control my emotions. Thus, when I found myself supervising a plant with 120 Nigerian workers at the sweet age of 25, I definitely was not prepared to face that much pressure.
I had to learn simultaneously how to manage people, deal with clients, direct projects, etc. I was sleeping very little and handling the plant somehow.
Obviously, since I sometimes lost control of the situation, I often got mad. Really, really mad!
However, I quickly realized that, not only did it have no effect on my team, it was actually counterproductive. Either the person would freeze (when I say that my anger was Homeric!), or they would look at me with condescendence. In both cases, that didn’t help me establish my authority nor move my projects forward.
I ended up spending very complicated months. Workers who didn’t respect me, who constantly questioned my authority, who tested my sensitivity…etc.
Nigeria was my first dive into the wild, and I had to learn very quickly and without any help how to be a director.
Controlling my anger was the first step. How?
I had to substitute my anger for some good mood. To do so, when the night had been bad, I’d spend a few moments concentrating and smiling before getting to work. Actions precedes emotions. A smile, even when fake, allows you to actually feel happier. Alone in my car in the morning, I’d start smiling.
Similarly, it’s important to prepare for a reunion that is expected to be tense. Working your text, as if you were about to present, and playing the scene enough times in your head for the text to come out naturally – to ensure that, during the crucial moment, emotions don’t get in the way.
Finally, trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, to understand why they’re acting a certain way. Stop thinking that their only goal is to annoy us – maybe they have valid reasons to act that way!
With practice, it becomes easier. Today, I still get mad, but most of the time, it’s controlled and intentional. Sometimes, the situation requires to bang your wrist on the table.
What I just described is the normal journey, I think, of an employee who is maturing and gaining experience. This applies to both women and men.
Obvious? Yes, of course! At least for my readers!
Yet, what about the difference of treatment between men and women on the issue of anger? We’ve all worked at some point with an anger-prone man. And, if he’s competent, we tend to forgive him. It’s part of his personality, he’s a colorful character!
However, when a woman gets mad… it’s no longer “a nice trait of his personality”. No, this woman is considered almost hysterical. And a hysterical person is not given responsibilities.
Why this difference?
Why, when Segolene Royal told Nicolas Sarkozy she was mad about his thoughts on handicap, did he allow himself to say with a condescending tone “you are losing your temper”, which he would’ve never told a man. It worked, since his words were picked up by several newspapers afterwards.
An angry woman is the same as an angry man. Either she wants to express her indignation, either she wants to give more scope to her remarks, without necessarily raising her voice (as did Segolene Royal). She can also be under extreme pressure, or be facing an injustice, and lose control. While this may impact her authority, it should be the same impact as a man would face.
Ladies, if the situation calls for it, why not let yourself go to a little anger once in a while, without losing control, but will show that there are lines not to cross!
And everyone, when you see an angry woman, before judging her and talking about hormones, ask yourselves how you’d react if it were a man in the same circumstances.