The past couple of weeks have been excruciatingly busy. Thanks to riots and curfew, our classes and exams had been postponed to the last week; the lab exams scheduled for last week got pushed to this week. We don’t have killer courses or anything this semester, but our schedule is hectic to say the least, what with 32 hours a week.
I’ve been increasingly on the edge, snapping at people for the smallest reason. One of my victims lashed back saying, “Why don’t you try to control your…er… anger? Yelling at someone isn’t something you should be seen doing frequently.”
That reminded me of Boman Irani’s character in Munnabhai MBBS. Laughing out loud to control your anger. It’s supposed to work, coz laughter releases endorphins or some such chemicals which ease your blood pressure and leaves you feeling happy and contented. So far so good, but in practice, the idea practically sucks.
A friend of mine begins to shriek out with ear-splitting laughter when she gets tense or excited. Nothing could possibly be worse than finding your working-model not working minutes before the contest starts and your teammate next to it shrieking with laughter.
Well, another more popular way of hiding your anger is by not saying anything about it, just nodding, grinning, agreeing and feeling peeved about it all day long. And being given to arbit rants at the slightest provocation.
A professor I know apparently starts smiling more and more broadly as his temper rises. His face goes red with anger, his voice goes lower and his smile broadens. His sarcasm levels rise exponentially, and it takes people who are not used to this sort of thing quite a while to understand that he’s angry.
I don’t understand these futile attempts to appear civilized by masking your anger. Why do you pretend you are not pissed off when in reality you are? Doesn’t it make it easier for everyone involved if you show you are irritated with them? Why such a roundabout approach?
It’s natural that when a person gets worked up, his expression turns sour, he acquires an unpleasant tone, and he raises his voice. Language breaks acceptable limits slowly, and body language changes visibly to show anger.
This serves as a warning signal for the rest so as to not rub the person the wrong way. When you know a person is irritated, you normally aren’t flippant with them and take care to weigh your words such that it doesn’t hurt the other person. Normally, others broaden their margin of error for whatever the person says.
On the other hand, appearing outwardly cool and calm gives a cold-blooded effect to whatever the person says. He seems to be in perfect control of himself, which cuts on any allowance or margin the others might give an angry person. In effect, the things said are the same irrespective of whether you are giggling to hell when you say it or when you are red with irritation. But the effect created is different.
Whether the person is smiling or frowning, his mental state remains the same [I am not talking about people who are controlling their excitement] and so will the things he will say, so why appear outwardly calm, confusing everyone else? That apart, people simply CAN’T accept that a calm-looking person is put off about something. As for endorphins, you don’t need them in a crisis situation… like why would you want to be feeling ecstastic when the situation is getting out of hand?
In short, when most people are irritated, they still harbour the same old prejudices, feel the same within, say hurtful things, so why act like you’re not angry, that you’re totally in control when you are not? I agree giving full vent to your anger creates ugly scenes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s about showing the normal signs of being angry just to non-verbally communicate to the other person that you are not to be messed around with, you can’t take excessive criticism, your mind is closed for the time being… a big ‘Handle With Utmost Care’ sign on you which can NOT be put across with words, however gentle they might be.
The best way to handle an unpleasant situation is, no doubt, to not lose your cool in the first place, to remain calm, think rationally and not bring up any new communication barriers and talk the whole thing through. But once you have lost it, then I don’t think there is any use pretending. Unless of course, it’s your prospective employer checking how much you score on the patience test.
PS: You don’t have to scream and swear to show you’re angry. It somehow shows. But please don’t confuse the other person [as opposed to adversary] by doing something like laughing out loud just to be different, or due to some cockeyed reasoning like endorphins.