Anger and anxiety go hand in hand (Deschenes, 2012). Anger reinforces stress and stress reinforces anger, and that’s why stressed or anxious workplaces are often angry workplaces.
Angry people act before they think (Leith & Baumeister, 1996). Anger is an emotion triggered by an automatic thought. Unchecked anger occurs when our emotional brain over rides our rationale brain. So how do we “check” our anger?
Empathy is an effective tool for managing anger. Empathy releases the compassion hormone oxytocin and actually blocks the release of the the stress hormone cortisol (Ciaramicoli, 2016).
Empathetic leaders are “slow listeners”. They are thoughtful and calm. They embrace one simple truth – that negativity is almost always based on distorted reality. Empathic listening allows the leader’s emotional and rationale brains to work together.
Three tips for empathetic listening:
- Don’t mind read – never assume you know what the other person is thinking
- Slow down – don’t trust your flash reactions and think before you speak
- Read the body language – look for nonverbal queues and ask for feedback