In the days of broadswords and chain mail, anger was a simple concept. In the BlackBerry and e-mail age, rage is often disguised. “Identifying your own anger style could be the key to eliminating it,” says Ron Potter-Efron, M.S.W., author of Letting Go of Anger.
Men with chronic anger are six times more likely to suffer a heart attack by the age of 50—not to mention high blood pressure, muscle pain, headaches, and depression. Here’s our anger management guide.
The Triggers: Performance reviews, wives, girlfriends
Don’t Become: The Cornered Dog
“Let’s say a guy is at work and his boss says he’s going too slowly. If he thinks he’s being attacked, then he’s feeling shameful anger, and he’ll lash out,” says Potter-Efron. This tips others off to your insecurity, which makes you look weak—and validates the criticism.
Instead: Slow down your reaction time. If it’s an accurate critique, accept it and focus on improvement. If it’s bunk, hold your punches. Whether it’s by e-mail, by phone, or in person, the best way to respond to an unwarranted kick in the crotch is to let the pain fade before delivering a calm, well-considered reproach.
The Triggers: Red tape, the DMV, late fees
Don’t Become: The Crazy Hothead
Venting your anger feels satisfying, but it doesn’t find a way around the problem, says Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., author of Transforming Anger.