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Projects And Anger Management
By Phil de Kock

We all know him/her – the “pencil breaker” on projects. A nice person, but someone who can explode at any moment, often just leaving the project without even trying to heal relationships – well this Blogger must admit a pencil breaking or two himself, until the realization came that anger can actually kill.

The HeartMath Institute show that so called emotional high jacking can cause your heartbeat to jump up to 30 beats in one heartbeat if for example you get angry. The result is that our bodies pump harmful adrenalin and other hormones, which if not checked can have a variety of negative consequences. Examples of these are, stress, anxiety and panic attack, difficulty in losing weight, accelerating the aging process, potential of strokes and heart attacks. It is for this reason that Dr Redford Williams in The Trusting Heart (1989) makes the following statement:

“Anger is the one emotion that does the most harm to the heart”

The question then is what could one do to manage anger? What follow are a few practical tips:

  • Obviously is acknowledgment that anger needs to be managed the starting point. Further is knowledge always a sound departure point in any healing journey;
  • In addition to the above, be aware of the myths around anger. This includes that anger cannot be controlled, that anger should be suppressed, that venting anger is healthy;
  • Stay away from dealing with your anger in ways that self destruct or harm relationships. This includes, holding grudges, plotting revenge, self blaming and guilt, using substances in an uncontrolled fashion etc;
  • Be aware of anger triggers;
  • Create “break states”, thus try to embark on totally different behavior once you feel the onset of anger. The old “time out” and taking a walk makes good sense;
  • Ask yourself a set of pre rehearsed questions when you are confronted with an anger trigger. This will allow your mood to settle – for example “how important will this issue be in three months time”;
  • Visualize beforehand how you would ideally act in situations that usually trigger the anger response – see yourself acting correctly and feeling good. Then also experience it as if you are there (thus in an associated state);
  • Start with practices that calm your mind and general mood, for example meditation and self hypnosis;
  • Above all learn to forgive (more about this in the BLOG that follow).

“Anyone can become angry- that is easy, but to be angry: with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way- that is not easy” – Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Phil de Kock is an organization and management consultant with a career span of more than 20 years in several disciplines, including finance and admin, quality, project management as well as human and organization development.

His career development from a very junior level as a finance cashier to managing partner of a medium sized consulting firm is backed by sound growth and development at an academic level. Philip consequently has obtained a masters degree in people and organization development and is currently reading for his PhD. He is the co author of several publications and received awards for his post graduate academic achievements.

In addition to being visiting lecturer in project management he also trained more than 250 students in the relevant discipline during 2006/7. In addition, he published about and presented public courses dealing with ROI of Training, HR Scorecards, and Metrics as well as Job and Competency Profiling.

He consulted to various companies, including Namdeb (De Beers Namibia), Deb Marine, Anglo Base Metals (Skorpion Zinc) as well as public sector organization such as the Health Professions and Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Council. His most recent work include lecturing on project management, leadership and Human Resources Management at the institutions that include the Centre for Learning, Training and Development (WITS University), Varsity College (ADVTECH Group Ltd) and Global Business School.

Phil runs a professional project management blog: Project Management For The Rest of Us.

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