Q: I have somewhat of a temper and can react to situations that upset me—normally because it’s something I feel attached to and have worked hard on. I understand that having a temper can hold me back in my career, but changing almost feels like it’s impossible. What can I do to hide my feelings when I disagree with another colleagues’ work idea?
The list of successful people who have demonstrated frequent angry outbursts and uncontrollable tempers has been well documented over the years, including the biography of Steve Jobs. While they were able to be successful and moved ahead in their careers, for most people, a bad temper and frequent angry outbursts, as you mentioned in your question, will damage career progression and not enhance them.
Take a look at my tips below for channeling your inner passion and getting your temper under control.
You Can Be Passionate, But Avoid The Temper
It’s one thing to be passionate about projects, and it’s another to lash out with anger. Passion can be energizing, and if used correctly, can inspire not only you, but others as well. And I hear you that you feel attached and committed to the project—great qualities, but not if it’s overshadowed by a temper. Cultivate your inner passion and use this when communicating your feelings about a project, but stay away from the angry outbursts.
Be Open To The Ideas Of Others
Consider being open to the ideas of others and you may produce better results. I recommend reading up on the company IDEO. Founded by David Kelley, IDEO is responsible from some of the greatest designs, including the first mouse for Apple. The premise of the company is based on Design Thinking, and building on the ideas of others. When they begin to solve a problem, they start by bringing together a group of people with very different backgrounds to throw ideas together. Their belief is that by having a diverse group, they can build on one another’s ideas to create better ones. Collaboration and diversity are keys to their success. Look at ways to include collaboration and diversity in your projects as well.
The Downside Of A Temper In The Office
It’s not very pleasant to be around colleagues who are always getting angry. People generally don’t like someone with a temper. And if it happens frequently, it’s hard to gain respect from colleagues. When you’re in a senior position with a temper, you can sometimes motivate people in the short-term with the “stick”, but my experience is it doesn’t lead to the most creative output from employees, or the highest productivity. It’s hard to create when you’re fearful—why would you risk speaking up with an idea if someone is going to shout at you? I hear that you feel attached to your project, but put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment. How pleasant do you think it is to be on the receiving end of another person’s anger?
Channel Your Assertiveness, Not Your Aggression
Keep in mind that it’s OK to be assertive in the office. I would encourage this trait. But letting the assertiveness transform into aggression is not only violating another person’s boundaries, but it also can feel abusive to the person on the receiving end. Set an intention to be assertive. Demonstrate your passion for your project, and show how much you care. These are commendable traits.