CWTI Trainings

Emotional Intelligence graphic
Emotional Intelligence


Emotional Regulation


Coping With Anger

Man yelling at computer


Perceived danger or threat can trigger anger.  This danger can be more symbolic than physical; for example, danger to a relationship, being treated unfairly, or being prevented from reaching a goal.  Each person has their preferred coping mechanisms for times of minor to moderate distress, whether it is taking a nap, calling a friend to talk, eating a favorite comfort food, or exercising.  Scientists have agreed upon some generally useful coping strategies for different types of emotion, including anger.

Goleman described three common ways of diffusing an angry response to a trigger: Challenging angry thoughts, cooling down, and venting.

    Challenging the thoughts that trigger anger is more easily accomplished before anger is out-of-control.  Thoughts exist in a constant feedback loop with our emotions and behaviors, and we can use our thoughts to influence both. 

    Example: Your co-worker snaps at you during an important meeting. You refocus your thoughts to reach for understanding rather than immediately snapping back at him. You think to yourself, “Wow … Tom must be having a bad day. I know he’s dealing with that tough case right now and he must be really stressed to snap like that.” Continuing with that train of thought, you will probably find yourself feeling calmer.

    Cooling down is an effective strategy that involves creating distraction by involving yourself in an enjoyable activity or going to a pleasant, calming environment.  Most people at one time or another have gone for a walk outside or exercised when feeling upset or angry.  This strategy seems to work by helping the body move from a high-arousal state of anger to a low-arousal state. 

    angry feelings, or catharsis through dialogue, yelling or other strong expression is generally not an effective strategy to cope with rage (Goleman, 1995).  The emotional and physiological centers of the brain become more aroused when venting, leading to even more angry feelings.



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