How Good is Your Anger Management?

Controlling Your Anger Before it Controls You

Anger management

How angry are you?

© iStockphoto

We all get angry. It's a normal emotion. However, some of us handle our anger better than others.

While one person might be a bit unhappy when someone cuts him off in traffic, another is so angry that he shouts and swears, and starts driving aggressively himself.

How can the same event cause such different reactions? And how can you make sure that your reaction is the calm one, instead of the wild one?

How Good is Your Anger Management?

So how well do you manage your anger? Use the online test to find out how well you do.

Instructions

For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

Your last quiz results are shown.

You last completed this quiz on , at .

18 Statements to Answer

Not at All Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often
1 I seem to get angry unexpectedly, without really understanding why.
2 When someone makes me angry, I try not to show my emotions, and pretend to tolerate it.
3 When I encounter a problem, I identify the "right" solution myself and get it implemented as fast as possible.
4 When I'm angry, I hit something (or I want to hit something).
5 When something frustrating happens, I know it's not the end of the world.
6 When something really frustrates me, I can usually see the humor in the situation, and I laugh at myself and/or the others involved.
7 When people make me angry, I try to understand why they did or said what they did.
8 I feel that I'm able to control my anger.
9 I can forgive people after they've hurt or angered me.
10 When I feel angry, I give myself a “time out” (I walk away to calm down).
11 I have an activity, hobby, or routine I use to release my feelings of anger.
12 When I’m angry, I tend to focus on my feelings and how I’ve been wronged.
13 After I've been angry, I think about what I could or should have done to control my anger better.
14 When I'm angry, I find alternatives and give myself enough time to make a good choice to solve my problems.
15 When I'm angry, I tend to yell, curse, and say things that I later regret.
16 When someone asks me to do something I really don't want to do, I agree – and then I'm angry at myself later.
17 If I know a certain situation will make me angry, I avoid it.
18 If another person damages something of mine due to carelessness, I confront the person and use the situation to talk about responsibility.
Total = 0

Score Interpretation

Score Comment
18-41

You seem to let your anger control you, which probably causes you all sorts of problems. In turn, this may make you more angry. Fortunately, you can learn how to break this cycle. Read the rest of the article for some great strategies for managing your anger. (Read below to start.)

42-66

You're able to manage your anger in some situations and not others. You have a few strategies that work for you, however, you'll benefit from a better understanding of what causes your anger, and what actions you can take to better manage your emotions. (Read below to start.)

67-90

Well done! You have a very good understanding of what makes you angry, and you know what to do when you start to feel signs of trouble. You've developed a wide range of anger management strategies, and you can be proud of these. (Read below for more.)

Manage Your Anger Constructively

The goal of anger management is not to eliminate anger completely: that isn't possible, since it's a natural human emotion. Rather, the objective is to control and direct your anger – so that it doesn't control you, or damage an important relationship or situation.

In Anger Management: Channelling Anger into Performance  , we discuss Redford Williams' steps for controlling anger. There are three key elements to these:

  1. Understanding what causes your anger.
  2. Reducing your angry reactions.
  3. Controlling your anger when you experience it.

Understand What Causes Your Anger

(Questions 1, 8, 13)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

One of the most effective approaches for managing anger is to identify the sources of the anger you experience. Once you know what makes you angry, you can develop strategies for dealing with it. When you're in the middle of a bad situation, it's hard to think logically and rationally, so understanding what causes your anger can help you plan how to deal with it.

  • Use a diary or "anger log” to write down the times, people, and situations that make you angry.
  • Look for trends, or things that make you angry often.
  • Ask yourself why these things make you angry. Do you connect certain memories to these sources of anger? Do you feel that goals are being frustrated, or that something important to you is being threatened?

Reduce Your Angry Reactions

While you probably won't eliminate anger completely, you can certainly reduce the frequency and scope of your anger. The less angry you are in general, the more control you'll have over your emotions. Since much of our anger can come from frustration and stress, if you work on ways to ease and reduce these causes of frustration and stress, you'll reduce the amount of anger in your life.

Use Problem Solving Skills

(Questions 3, 5, 14)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

A great way to reduce stress is to improve your problem solving skills. We sometimes feel that everything we do needs to be correct and turn out well, and this can be frustrating when things don't turn out as they should. Instead of expecting yourself always to be right, commit to doing your best. That way you can be proud of your effort even if the end result isn’t what you want.

Also, accept that when something doesn't work out, the world usually won't end. Sometimes you just need to relax and not let things bother you. We may think that we should have an answer for everything – but the truth is, we don't!

Use Communication Skills

(Questions 7, 12, 15, 18)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

You can also reduce anger by impraoving your communication skills. When you relate well to other people, express your needs, and talk about issues that bother you, you deal with potential anger proactively.

  • Build empathy   – When you understand another person's perspective, it helps you analyze the situation objectively and understand your role in the conflict. Accept that you may not always know best!
  • Learn to trust others – Assume the best in people, and don't take their actions personally.
  • Listen – Use active listening   to consider what the other person has to say, and then think before you speak. In many situations, the best way to deal with anger is to accept it, and then find ways to move forward. This can protect your relationships with people, and it allows you to acknowledge your feelings.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive – By improving your assertiveness skills  , you can reduce the frustration that you feel when your needs aren't being met. When you know how to ask for what you want, you'll generally feel more in control, and less likely to say things that you'll later regret.

Tip:

Don't try to communicate when you're still upset. See the next section on controlling your anger for ideas on how to do this.

Release Your Anger

(Questions 2, 9, 11, 16)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

You can reduce the likelihood of losing control by releasing the anger that you've built up. When you get rid of angry feelings on a regular basis, you'll feel calmer and more even-tempered, and you'll be more able to deal with the ups and downs of daily life. You can do a variety of things to release your anger, including the following:

  • Take 10 deep breaths. It really does work!
  • Do some physical activity – walk, run, swim, play golf, or do some other sport. This can be great for releasing the stress and frustration you've built up!
  • Use a punching bag or a pillow to physically express your anger (in a way that's not harmful).
  • Do yoga, or another relaxing form of exercise.
  • Participate in a fun activity or hobby.
  • Use a journal and/or art to express your feelings.
  • Forgive. At some point, it helps to let go and move on with a fresh attitude.

Some people believe that they have to hold their anger in to control it. This is not is an effective anger management strategy. Even if you don't show anger to others, that emotion has to go somewhere: it can be stubborn, and it usually doesn't go away on its own.

Control Your Anger When You Experience It

(Questions 4, 6, 10, 17)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

When you start to feel angry, what do you do? Controlling yourself in a bad situation can be difficult, and your actions will have consequences.

External reactions – like kicking and screaming – don't help. You may feel good for a little while, but later, you'll surely feel foolish and sorry. Also, you may do permanent damage to relationships and your reputation.

When you feel that you can't hold your anger in any longer, here are some great strategies to try:

  • Change Your Environment
    • Take a break and physically remove yourself from the conflict. Go to another room, go for a walk, or count to 10. This may give you time to gain perspective and simply calm down.
    • Learn to avoid situations that you know will cause your anger. If you don't like your teammate's messy desk, don't go into her office.
    • If you regularly do something that makes you angry, try to find something else to do in its place. For example, if the crowded elevator upsets you every morning, take the stairs.
  • Use Humor
    • Think of something funny to say (but don't be rude or sarcastic).
    • Try to see the funny side of the situation.
    • Imagine the other person in a silly situation.
    • Learn to laugh at yourself.
    • Smile. It's hard to be angry with a smile on your face.
  • Calm Yourself Physically
    • Use physical relaxation techniques. Take slow, deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing.
    • Tighten and release small muscle groups. Focus on your hands, legs, back, and toes.
    • Repeat a word or phrase that reminds you to stay in control and remain confident. For example, say, "You'll get through this. Relax! You're doing a great job!"
    • Practice imagery   techniques. Use your imagination or memory to visualize a calming place or situation.

Key Points

It is natural to feel, express, and release anger. However, there are appropriate ways to do so – and that's what anger management is all about.

You can get a strong insight into your anger issues by understanding what makes you angry. From there, you can create a plan to minimize frustration and anger in your life.

When you do get angry, there are many approaches you can try to calm down – including changing your environment, using humor, and practicing relaxation techniques. It's also important to release your anger on a regular basis.

Don't let your anger control you. Instead, face it – and take back control of anger – and of your life!

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

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Comments (62)
  • Midgie wrote Over a month ago
    Thanks Harris, Daniel and Michelle for sharing your scores.

    Thanks Daniel for sharing your experience. I agree, when you 'add fuel to the fire' by getting angry, frustrated or upset, it just detracts from your ability to focus on the work at hand.

    One strategy I use is to ask myself 'do I want to waste the next hour or hours being angry and upset over something or would I prefer to use that time (and head space) focusing on something more productive?'

    Midgie
    Mind Tools Team
  • Michelle wrote Over a month ago
    I scored 59.....
  • Daniel wrote Over a month ago
    I scored a 76. Between managing a group at work and having a big family at home, I've found that adding fuel to a fire or getting frustrated at every little ting is counterproductive and tiring.
  • Harris wrote Over a month ago
    I scored 58. In most cases I am able to manage my emotions. I sometimes get angry but I am able to overcome and control my tempers.
  • Midgie wrote Over a month ago
    HI ALBSNHU and Tiffany,
    Thanks for sharing your scores.

    It does take some experience to be able to control our tempers and anger, and not allow ourselves to fire off as soon as we have been triggered. If we get angry, not only do we not think as clearly or logically or rationally as we might when we are calmer, it might also cause harm professionally. So, good reason to develop your abilities to remain calm and deal with situations.

    Midgie
    Mind Tools Team
  • Tiffany wrote Over a month ago
    I scored a 74!
  • ALBSNHU wrote Over a month ago
    I have scored a 70, which I am not surprised. When I was younger, I did have a temper and would get upset a lot more and a lot easier, but not in the work place, more in my personal life. Since I became active in my church and spend more time with my Christian friends, I am more at peace and more tolerant to what use to set my fuse so easily. I still find something’s take more of an effort to remain calm and de-escalate before reacting than others (like irresponsible drivers or disrespectful acts that hurt or negatively impact others). Within my professional environment, it never pays to fly off the handle, which to me would invite disciplinary action or termination for one, if not, a lasting negative impression about oneself that will have would hurt professional collaboration or advancement.
  • Midgie wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Darren and mjgabe1,
    It good to know what our triggers are that fire up the emotion of anger. That way, we can put in place strategies to deal with the situations if/when they happen.

    What strategies can you put in place?

    Midgie
    Mind Tools Team
  • mjgabe1 wrote Over a month ago
    I cannot recall a time when I have lost control in the office due to being angry. As my assessment score confirms, I do have a good understanding of what can cause me to become angry and how best to handle the stressful situation.
  • Darren wrote Over a month ago
    I scored a 75 and I'm really angry about it.....(no pun intended, just kidding.
Show all comments

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