BY JUDI LIGHT HOPSON, EMMA H. HOPSON AND TED HAGEN
TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE/TNS
Do you get upset trying to deal with your kids, your spouse, or your siblings? Maybe you scream loud enough for neighbors to hear.
You know your actions aren’t cool, and later, you’re likely to feel ashamed of yourself. Also, if you’re spewing anger at co-workers, friends, or business associates, this could hurt your income, reputation, and career possibilities.
If you have a bad temper, you’re not alone. Most individuals can really get hot under the collar.
It’s not easy to stay centered and calm while your emotions are boiling. It’s almost impossible not to yell, if you believe your dignity is taking a few bad whacks from someone.
No one should react strongly before digesting information. For example, if your teenage daughter tells you she’s pregnant, try hard not to spew your emotions. Instead, tell her you need time to think about the situation.
Remember that you can always get angry later. For example, if you find out one of your employees has been stealing from the company, plan your reaction. Take time to think about how forceful you need to be. You might need other people to witness what you say.
Some people like to push your buttons. Don’t let them. Absorb what the other person is saying or doing, but don’t allow him or her to trigger a reaction.
People are afraid of a calm person. Why? They know you can give believable information to others. For instance, if someone has harmed your property, and you stay relatively calm, they know you can make a good case in court.
Calm and focused
“I just went to court with my neighbor over a dangerous dog running loose,” says a nurse we’ll call Beverly.
Beverly prepared with her lawyer to force the neighbor to build a strong fence. She took a picture of the dog growling and snapping, a drawing of the fence she felt was adequate to protect her family, and she told the judge she’d pay for the fence.
“I won the case, but I didn’t have to pay for the fence,” says Beverly. “I made good sense, and 99% of the law is just good common sense. My calmness helped me focus on presenting my material effectively and quickly, so the judge would listen.”
Know the facts
Moving from anger mode to “action” mode is often necessary to fix a situation. Staying calm helps you figure out what action is needed.
A friend we’ll refer to as Kim recently caught her husband with another woman. “I walked into a restaurant, and there they were,” says Kim. “They were laughing and having a drink. Good thing I didn’t lose my temper. The woman turned out to be his first cousin, Karen, who had not been around in years.
“Karen had made a family history book she was bringing my husband. Jeez, I’m glad I didn’t act jealous! I’d have felt like a fool.”
Judi Light Hopson is the executive director of the stress management website USA Wellness Café at www.usawellnesscafe.com. Emma Hopson is a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.