Friday, October 03, 2008

The Cost Of Anger

'The Great Day of His Wrath' - John Martin_*


* 'The Great Day Of His Wrath' - John Martin, wiki.

It Is A Heavy Price To Pay

It used to be not an uncommon sight in the office next door to mine. Employees would stop breathing, at the sight of the signs that clearly foretold that the volcano was about to erupt. And the signs never let anyone down; when the volcano erupted, the lava submerged the entire office. After it subsided, it would be my turn to wait. For the much-relieved-after-the-episode boss would walk into my office for a bite of sandwich washed with a cup of coffee. The eruption would create a void in the stomach which had to be filled urgently, you see.

image by cieleke, sxc.hu


Anger, and uncontrolled anger at that, has gone down in history as the one of the most damaging of all emotions. It is the 'dispositional' form of anger that one is talking about here, the one that has got nothing to do with self-preservation or reacting to perceived-injustice, but has everything to do with churlishness and instinctive-irritability.

image by simeon, sxc.hu


The boss who is not mature enough to handle their anger and explodes when an employee does some mistake - grave or trivial - perhaps does more harm to the company than the mistake itself. For, while the boss may even forget the episode after the bout of anger has subsided - as would be the case with my next-door neighbor -, the episode creates a ball of negative emotions that does not dissipate into thin air. Swallowed by the employee, the ball triggers a counter-reaction in their mind. And they usually do not, cannot exercise the same freedom and privilege to explode back. This implies that the counter-reaction does not find an appropriate outlet for self-expression.

image by doortenj, sxc.hu


But find an outlet it has to. So the anger is taken out on the kids or the spouse at home - well, wherever there is a victim that is usually in subjugated mode in their relationship. Alternatively, the person slides into a passive-aggressive behavior that stems partly from self-hatred at one's powerlessness to break free from such oppressive condition - alternative jobs are not like fruit that somebody can go pluck from an overladen tree in somebody's orchard -, and partly from a slyness that wants to get even with the perpetrator, someday, somehow.

image by spekulator, sxc.hu


In the case of my neighboring office, I saw the anger being vented in both these ways. One employee in that office a colleague of mine personally knew would regularly bash his kids in the evening, without justification, whenever he became the butt of anger during the day time in the office. In fact, it became standard practice for this colleague to ring up the employee's wife and forewarn her, so that the wife could hide the kids out of sight well in time.



In another case, a once-top-performing employee of that office began making mistakes that would have been considered unthinkable coming from her. Eventually a time came when she quit, without notice. She was indispensable to the company's operations, so goes without saying that her absence degraded the outfit's business significantly. Later, everyone could pinpoint the exact occasion when the slide started: a sensitive soul, she was insulted in front of her peers and juniors by an insensitive boss who at the very least should have taken lessons in both anger and personnel management, before launching the business.

image by weirdvis, sxc.hu


With time, I relocated my office premises, and after moving out of the city, I gradually got out of touch with my friend, the boss. Yesterday night, an ex-employee who was with me in that same office premises rang up to inform that the boss had died. Cardiac arrest. He was in one of his "volcano-eruption" sessions when it happened. One of his arteries must have most likely busted. The same set of employees who he was spewing the lava on, bundled him into an ambulance and took him to the hospital, in the hope that he recovered so that he could continue with the spewing. Uh, resume from where he had left. But that was not to happen. He was declared dead on arrival.

image by mapelc, sxc.hu


Otherwise a warm and generous human being and a good friend, one who would often go out of his way to help people in times of need, this man's inability to take control over his temper overshadowed all his good traits. To the extent that, in his lifetime, he inadvertently made more enemies than he consciously made friends.

image by bjearwicke, sxc.hu


Anger. You pay a heavy price when you come under its control.

image by some_bo, sxc.hu

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