5 Simple Ways to Master Emotions When People Push Your Buttons

Learn to manage your anger before it manages you.

Caspar Benson/Getty Images
Caspar Benson/Getty Images

Ever let your temper get the best of you? Been there. It’s virtually impossible not to get triggered by something or someone especially when working with difficult people. But as any good leader will attest, we’re human and we all have our moments.

When it comes to expressing anger, we need to first accept that it’s normal to have the occasional and righteous outburst when faced with wrongdoing or questionable behavior that crosses up our values or standards.

But with inappropriate anger, we all have to learn to manage it before it manages us. Inappropriate displays of uncontrollable outbursts can derail team morale, diminish trust, and sabotage our ability to lead well.

With some healthy introspection and self-diagnosis, we can realize that our anger is really a reaction to something unresolved at the bottom of the pile that’s causing us anxiety, worry, or fear.

When jerks or the hairy circumstances of life violate us, we have to know how to deal with our emotions appropriately so that it doesn’t get the best of us.

To keep your emotions under control and properly express your anger when your buttons are pushed by jerky-types, try these useful techniques.

When someone has crossed the line with you, especially if it has been done repeatedly, your best option is to verbally set a limit on that person. The point is to express, in a tactful manner, that you’re not going to allow yourself to let this individual disrespect your dignity or authority.

Find out what’s really behind your anger.

Most likely, your anger may run deeper than the project manager taking a two-hour lunch and missing a critical deadline. Find out what’s really beneath the anger and think back to how it all started. As you process in hindsight, get honest with yourself and remember that anger is really a sneaky secondary emotion triggered by something that may be running much deeper.

When you feel you’re headed toward an outburst, you have to have a game plan for squashing it before the mountain top blows. If you’re in a heated exchange, call a time out. Simply inform the person you need a short break and come back to the discussion when you’re in better space. It’s also helpful to acknowledge to yourself when you’re mad and seek better perspective and understanding from a trusted person.

When you’ve had time to process and think things through, it’s crucial that you tell the other person how you feel. And, it goes without saying, be sure to identify the specific event that made you feel the way you did. As you express your feelings tactfully, end it with a statement of boundaries. For example: “The way you interrupted me repeatedly during the meeting made me feel disrespected and unappreciated. I’d like to respectfully request that it never happens again.”

Mastering emotions in the land of polarizing opinions and difficult personality types isn’t easy and should be celebrated. Once you reach that Nirvana-like state of achieving total command of your emotions, and you’ve learned to take responsibility for them, treat yourself to some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (or your treat of choice). Your brain will thank you as it rewires itself to a more positive outlook.

Originally published at www.inc.com.

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