We’ve all experienced moments of anger when our emotions push us into making, well, not the wisest choices.
“When we get frustrated, we often do things that aren’t positive,” says Ken Lindner, who’s a life coach, the celebrity agent to Matt Lauer and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and author of the recently-released book, Your Killer Emotions.
“Emotions aren’t good or bad per se—it’s the act that you wind up taking that’s either toxic or positive,” he says.
So how do you not fly off the handle in the moment when it matters most and make good decisions instead of ones you may regret? Lindner gave us these three very helpful tips:
1. Never make an important decision when you’re angry or frustrated. When caught in the heat of the moment, Lindner says to take a step back, and evaluate the situation from a clearer place. We tend to make irrational decisions when we’re fueled by emotions, says Lindner. So, even if you’re tempted to prove someone else wrong or have your side understood ASAP, Linder suggests you make it a rule of thumb to never make a decision when you’d love to lash out. “Cool down, and think about what it is you really want out of that choice or interaction,” he says. (And may we also suggest a quick meditation trick?)
2. Focus on the big picture. We have a tendency to forget the big picture when we’re angry, says Lindner. He remembers a time when, in the final stages of a business deal, the terms changed. “If I yelled and screamed, I would probably have lost the deal entirely,” he explains. “That would have been counter to achieving what I really wanted.” Once you’ve taken the time to calm down (see Tip No. 1), think about what your goals are in a particular situation and stay true to those goals despite frustration or anger, which are likely temporary. “You want to make sure that whatever you do, it’s consistent with what you want from the larger relationship,” he says.
3. Be consequence cognizant. A quick way to re-focus on what matters and act accordingly (i.e., not like a hot head) is to think about what you’ve invested in the situation and in yourself—time at your job building seniority, for example—and how it might be affected. One poor decision made from anger can throw off all you’ve worked for. Lindner cites Warren Buffett’s solid council: “It can take twenty years to built a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” —Amy Eley