Interpersonal Edge: The superpower of annoyance!

Dr. Daneen Skube

By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency

Q:After the last two years I find everything is irritating me. I’m acting externally calm but internally I’m angry most of the time. I have heard anger is bad for your health, and that anger is something we need to overcome. I feel like being annoyed all the time is a huge character flaw. How do you advise clients to deal with anger at work?

A: The emotion of anger, used properly, is the origin of all innovative problem solving. I’d recommend we change that quote about desperation being the mother of invention to state that anger is the actual mother of invention.

Of course, there are folks that believe anger is a weakness and a moral flaw. These same people are often fearful of their rage. In order to use anger effectively you need to have visited the volcano of fury within yourself and get to know that side of you.

Many people fear if they experience their profound rage they will act out in destructive ways. The irony here is people that have walked through the inner valley of fury are the least likely people to act out. If we experience our internal anger and have lunch with those feelings we have the impulse control to use it skillfully not destructively in the outer world.

So now that we have separated internal feelings from external behavior what comes next? Next we use the energy of anger to invent new solutions. When we are mad we usually feel a combination of fed up and powerless. The good news about getting to the end of our old rope is we have to swing to a new rope that works better.

Let me give my readers a good example. Write down the top three things that piss you off at work. Now beside these items write your typical response. Consider that your current problems continue due to your current reactions.

Now sit quietly and let yourself get furious at these issues. Get a sheet of paper and write an irrational, out of control rant about each problem on your list. When you get done go back and reconsider what options you actually have to react differently. I guarantee you will see alternative solutions you did not consider previously.

Anger gives us a nuclear amount of energy to overcome inertia, depression, and feeling trapped. When we get really mad internally we discover we often had the keys all along to any problem prison we believe we inhabit.

If we feel frustrated, annoyed, or irritated and judge ourselves we never achieve the energy to lift off to new solutions. Anger used effectively remains internal while we build up the energy to evolve, and transform. When our thinking goes up a level (thank you anger!) we can then deploy new reactions.

Realize that people that are angry all the time never let themselves use this emotion to create solutions. People that get deeply, profoundly angry have a lot less problems because they use irritation to create pearls of solutions like sand in an oyster shell.

As we face new problems, we’ll face new annoyances. We can use our anger as a new super power to solve any new problem we face. Tomorrow when you start work remember your anger is your friend not your foe. Use it to up level your problem solving and watch your level of irritability (and problems) go down.

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006).