Your Anger Is Your Responsibility


It’s everywhere today.

On the news. On our highways. In our offices. And in our homes.

And frankly, I get it. People are frustrated for many worthwhile reasons. They see vast inequities in the world. Someone they know is being taken advantage of (or they’re being taken advantage of). The values of those in power don’t match up with their own.

It pervades our work and home lives, too. Our colleagues don’t do what we want them to do when we want them to do it. Our bosses don’t understand us and what we’re going through. Our clients don’t realize how much we’re doing for them.

And we just. get. angry.

I remember when I first got married, and my anger permeated our marriage. There were ways my wife and I were living our lives that I didn’t like. I remember getting so frustrated with Ashley, just sharing with her all of the reasons I thought things weren’t going well and the ways we weren’t thriving.

Fortunately, I had a bunch of good mentors enter my life around that time and walk through the anger with me. And over and over again, a key theme came up:

I wasn’t taking responsibility for my anger.

I wasn’t bringing up why I was actually angry in a rational, loving way. I wasn’t painting a picture for her of what I hoped our life would be like. Instead, I just got angry and thought that would solve the problem.

It didn’t.

And this, I see, is the problem facing so many of us today.

Constantly, we see things around us that aren’t right (and there are many). But when we experience everyday frustrations, so few of us are bringing those issues up directly in our personal and professional relationships.

And that’s on us.

What Our Team is Doing to Change That

In our office, we actually have a problem where we are too nice to one another. And if you know my personality, you probably understand why. Even on my trip to Korea last week, someone approached Lizzie and me and said, “Your team is just so unbelievably nice.” While that is good, the issue we have on our staff is that we’re not bringing up negative issues or our problems with one another.

So we started practicing two things:

  1. When you’re frustrated with someone, bring it up with them directly.
  2. Then, at our next team meeting, share that you brought up a frustration (without going into details about what the frustration actually was).

While we’re not always 100% great at doing this, what this has already done for our team is encourage a culture where we can be honest and open with one another — by taking responsibility for our anger. We actually trust one another more because of it because we believe that if someone has an issue with us, they will bring it up, giving us the freedom to worry about the things that actually do matter.

So I hope this week you get angry about something. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.