The Art of Anger

The Art of Anger

“Anybody can become angry, that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” ~Aristotle

Anger has a bad reputation. As though it is always inappropriate, or should be controlled to the point that it never shows.

And it’s subjective in nature: what’s anger to one person is high annoyance to another.

Which makes it also semantic: frustration, irritation, resentment, and blame are all anger’s first cousins.

Since we are all of us human, we all display varying levels of anger. It’s the “when” and “why” and “how” that defines effectiveness.

For the most part, I agree that anger is often a smokescreen for fear. And the degree of anger manifested is in direct proportion to the depth of fear felt (internally).

But its motivation—the reason for the anger—doesn’t always justify the way it is displayed.

Some people lose it over what other people think is a small thing. Others “lose it” with others, but instead turn their anger inwards and become consumed with guilt or resentment.

Some are so disconnected from their own feelings that they walk around tense most of the time, infecting those around them with displaced sarcasm.

There are lots of ways we show our anger.

Yet, I’ve witnessed appropriate irritation, annoyance, or frustration displayed in a measured manner. These people express themselves clearly, so that the person or persons involved actually understand and, more importantly, respond positively by incorporating the input.

It’s a skill that is extraordinarily effective.

Sometimes anger can be a last resort to get the attention of someone when all else has failed,  like the story of the donkey that needs a two-by-four “up side his head” just to get its attention.

I think it’s an art, being able to hold, harness, and handle anger appropriately, a skill learned through experience and honed on a lot of stubbed toes and helpings of humble pie.

You can be real. You can get angry. But know why, and when, and how much to dispense.

That’s the art part.

“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” ~Benjamin Franklin


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Cynthia Barlow

Founder Cynthia Barlow

Facilitator, Author, Coach

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