Overcoming Anger - The Fuel To Contention’s Fire

business cpo education Apr 27, 2023


Remember when we were talking about contention a few articles back? Yes, the one that talks about how people will find a way to disagree with one another at some point or another - it is bound to happen.

When we allow the contention to go unattended it can build anger in certain people - this anger is what fuels the contention’s fire and causes all the burnouts, and broken bridges, and sometimes it escalates the situation to places we really don’t want to get into in this article - trust me. I worked in the prison system. I’ve seen firsthand what anger can cause. 


In that article on contention, I gave an example of a situation where I was doing something nice for someone and yet, they found a way to allow their ego and pride (a topic for the next article) to get in the way. This person got angry at every nice message I sent them and it fueled the contention that they were stirring up. It took me some time to meditate on how can this person’s anger cause so much damage to a relationship that I was trying to form.

Here are some of the findings.


Anger is caused or fed by three main points (obviously there are more, but we’ll keep it simple to the three most common ones). 


When person A expects a certain type of behavior from person B and then person B doesn’t behave in that expected manner - person A can get disappointed. If Person A continues expecting Person B to change their behavior and start behaving in the expected way that Person A wants Person B to behave - this will eventually lead to anger between the two parties involved.

Person A is angry that Person B won’t change 

Person B is angry that Person A is expecting them to be someone they are not.

This will escalate the existing contention, thus adding fuel and continuing to fire up contention.

If this is allowed to flare up - guess what happens? 


How often do we see this in personal relationships, business transactions, and peer-to-peer interactions? 


Unresolved Anger

There can be a deeper layer that is causing anger in a certain person, which is “unresolved anger”. Unresolved anger is a circumstance that a person finds themselves in when they swept whatever it is that is angering them under a rug and never took the time to unravel and work through the situation that caused the anger. The person now finds themselves in a perpetual state of anger. It seems as though this person is never happy and is always grumpy. Everything seems to trigger them at the drop of a hat. 


The issue with unresolved anger is that it can flare up with no warning and at any time. It’s as though a pressure cooker is about to explode and everyone in its way is collateral damage.

It goes without saying that this unresolved anger is extremely damaging and gone without the proper attention it deserves is like having an atom bomb that is ready to blow up not only your organization but the entire business as a whole. This can be either a leader in the company or an employee. No one wants to work with or for a ticking time bomb that is ready to blow up at any given second for no real good reason.

Some people would say “Go get your ‘stuff’ in order before coming back to work, or don’t come back at all.” 


Note: Any employer that sees this type of behavior being demonstrated by one of their employees, would be really smart to confront that employee in an empathetic way and offer and provide the type of resources and support that person needs. Since more often than not, that unresolved anger may come from a very justified cause where life “simply happens” and that person never really had the time, support, or resources to ever take care of that problem.  


Triggers differ from unresolved anger in the sense that sometimes after dealing with things that used to anger us, there may still be some remnant of that anger left over hidden deep within our subconsciousness. A certain word, phrase, a combination of behaviors and attitudes, or something along those lines may trigger some kind of feeling or emotion within us that is somehow associated with this past hurt in our lives that can potentially cause us to feel angry in that moment.

What is good about triggers is that with the proper professional help, we are able to identify them through awareness and internal work. We can also get to a place where we learn how to cope with these triggers when we sense that they are coming.

Allow me to give you an example of what that looks like.

I had to deal with some unresolved anger that stemmed from situations and circumstances in my childhood. This unresolved anger caused me and my life lots of harm until I got the help I needed. Through the professional therapy and recovery programs that I attended, along with my background as a guidance counselor for inmates in prison and recovering addicts in rehab - I have come to learn and be aware within myself what were the triggers that can flare up anger emotions in me. One of my counselors coined these triggers as HALT - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired - any one of these 4 triggers can set off a series of thoughts in my mind that will perpetuate to anger or more anger (since one of the triggers is anger itself). Therefore, with the proper therapy and counseling, I have come to learn that whenever I feel 1 of these 4 feelings, it will send off alarms in my head to slow things down, breathe, and take it easy - not allowing these triggers to grow and turn into greater anger that may be destructive.

It is super important for any leader to learn and practice emotional intelligence whereby identifying their personal triggers and developing tools that help them to cope with those triggers. Once we are able to deal with these triggers with lots of empathy and understanding, we are able to better deal with any anger it may perpetuate. 


In conclusion, anger is lurking in almost every corner, whether it be within us as leaders or within the people we work with, deal with, or serve. It is important to realize that as much as we cannot control those around us, it is our behavior that eventually gets mirrored. It is super important for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves “What’s my part in this?” How can I not allow my emotions to take over me and take over the situation? 


If I am in a leadership position and I am working with someone else that is demonstrating these emotions of anger - one of the first things I want to do is to give that person space to experience and express their emotions in a safe space and way. Obviously, we don’t allow them to go breaking walls and windows out of their anger or yell in rage. But rather, “Do not appease a man [or a woman] in his [or her] time of anger” - Talmud. Give it a “cooling off time” (create some kind of system where they can safely express their anger and cool off). Once that cooling period is over, take the time to explore with the person what it is that triggered this anger and try to provide resources or support to help resolve those unmet expectations, unresolved anger, or boundaries to the triggers. Having such a system in place will not only benefit your organization as a whole, but also harness the love, trust, and loyalty of the person demonstrating these behaviors. 


Lastly, if you are experiencing any of these emotions of anger, it would be suggested to also take time to cool off and to search for resources and support systems within your extended network to help you cope with those unmet expectations, unresolved anger, and triggers. One excellent resource is to increase in your own personal intrinsic happiness, by finding your own happy space and meditating on things that make you happy - you will see how quickly that anger will dissolve.



Take a moment to think back to a time when you experienced anger. What caused it? What led up to it? Did it come out of the blue? Can you justify it? How did it make you feel? What was the end result of that anger? What did it end up causing?

Now run this same exercise on what would it have looked like if the anger would have been tamed and not allowed to cause the havoc it did.  

Would love to hear your input. 


If you would like to learn more about The Work of Happiness workshop that we have developed which helps increase our internal and intrinsic happiness, please feel welcome to check out this link. We also provide group workshops in your work environment, just reach out to learn more.  


Yermi Kurkus - is the co-founder of the Yermi Kurkus Consulting Group. With a family background in Entrepreneurship, a heart for community and philanthropy, and his love for psychology, Yermi dedicated his life to helping businesses thrive. Earned an MA in Organizational and Industrial Psychology and is in the process of attaining his Doctorate in that same field. Today, Yermi creatively partners with businesses to help them increase their value, productivity, and profit by focusing on their operations and talent. The results of this help facilitate the buying or selling of businesses as well as assist in the overall well-being of the workplace and workforce.


To learn more about Yermi Kurkus feel free to follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. Or you can book your first 30-minute FREE consultation here.