When we are angry, our decisions are made without the support of the most intelligent version of ourselves

At times, we all get angry.  As you calmly read this, I am sure you are more than capable of contemplating negative ramifications that can come from using your anger to get what you want. Even if you don’t break a standard of etiquette to which you will be held accountable, there can be both long and short term consequences to an angry outburst. You already know this, and you likely do your best to be civil.

However, if you find yourself ruminating in anger, you should also recognize that your brain is not in a state where it can support you adequately in making smart decisions.  The brains of angry people are overconfident and narrowly focused.  They are averse to considering alternative possibilities, and their ability to generate new creative new solutions is weak.  Also, instead of seeking a solution that is in your best interest, your brain may instead find itself becoming attracted to options that harm that special someone who wronged you.   

I wrote this post since I occasionally talk with otherwise brilliant people who are angry, and they are contemplating making a rash decision.  If you find yourself in an outrage, see if you can delegate important decisions to your future calmer self.  That version of yourself is your best ally and will be back to help you soon enough.

Michael Brown, MD, MS, MCHM, CHCIO is a certified executive coach (Center For Executive Coaching) and Chief Medical Officer at Acesis, Inc. He was an instructor at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health for 8 years after graduating from their Masters in Healthcare Management program in 2007. For the 12 years prior to joining Acesis in 2014, Michael was the Chief Information Officer for Harvard University Health Services.

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