The Aftermath of Wrath

Defuse your anger and save your career

Take a deep breath and count to 10. Better yet, think about how you’ll pay the bills if you let anger get the best of you–and you’re fired. Just ask Latrell Sprewell, the suspended NBA superstar guard whose $32 million contract was terminated after he physically assaulted his coach last year.

“Anger is okay–it’s a natural human response,” says Lisa PorcheBurke, Ph.D., chancellor of the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. “[But] it becomes problematic when it leads to inappropriate workplace behavior–physical and verbal.”

Cathy Hughes’ temper was put to the test when she tried to purchase her first FM station in 1987. The bank that was to finance the acquisition brazenly sidestepped FCC regulations by insisting she would get the loan only if she maintained the easy-listening format the station already had instead of the urban contemporary format she had in mind.

Hughes, owner and chairperson of Washington, D.C.-based Radio One Inc., became furious, but paused to think her feelings through. “Expressing rage-even if it’s justified-only provides ammunition for those waiting to discredit African Americans’ business and professional capabilities,” she says. “I knew I would lose the station if I responded inappropriately.”

Hughes maintained her composure and successfully obtained the station. She was also eventually able to proceed with her own formatting plans-all without damaging her credibility.

Here are some strategies to help you keep your cool-and your job:

  • Think before you speak or act.
  • Stop a moment and collect your I thoughts. Ask yourself: Is the situation worth risking your career or business? Will getting angry solve the problem?
  • Remember, you can only control yourself.
  • You can’t make another person change or agree with your point of view. But you can decide to react positively to any given situation.
  • Don’t get mad; get busy.
  • Put negative energy to work for you. Instead of blowing a fuse, write that proposal, update your business plan or brainstorm for new ideas.
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