So another frequently asked question is, "If I give up anger, how can I be effective without it?" This is in fact a very good question because one of the most difficult issues at trying to get people to let go of anger and anger-related behaviors is that they are very effective.
One thing that we know is that in the short-term, anger can be quite reinforcing when we're talking about the behaviors. One, even though it's a negative emotion, interestingly the only emotion that people want to control less is joy. So let's think about that for a minute. It's a negative emotion, but people are less likely to want to change it than anything else except joy. So that makes it pretty difficult for people to let go of. One reason may be that there is some degree of sort of righteousness associated with it. If I'm really angry, I might believe that I am justified, and I'm right, and there may be even some moral superiority involved.
The second piece though is it's seems to work in terms of if I engage in the behaviors that my anger is sort of telling me to do which might be yelling and that kind of thing, I often times do get compliance in the short-term. That might be true for subordinates at work. It also might be true in my family. It could even be if I'm threatening someone on the streets. If I'm getting an effective compliance or coercive strategy to work by doing that, I might believe if I give it up, I'm not going to be able to get my children in fact to mind me. And so when clients ask that question, what we have to do is we have to teach them alternative skills and so that requires learning better parenting strategies or more effective management styles at work, because what we know is even though and they're right anger might be working for them in the short run, one they're putting their physical health at risk, two even though these people are complying when they are present, they're likely not complying when they aren't present and they might be building resentments and the very people that they ultimately want to respect them and to follow the rules when they're not around.
This concept is an important one that we get anger management clients in fact to give up, but in order to do that, we have to show them their alternative ways to communicate and alternative ways to sort of shape behaviors of other people other than using sort of intimidating behavioral tactics that are related to anger.