Dance Partners: Change & Anger

by | Jun 3, 2020 | Change |

“I AM NOT GRUMPY!” And with that my son ran upstairs stomping on each step. 30 minutes before I had told him some of our plans for the day had changed. He went quiet and his usual delightfulness had turned into grunts. My daughter, always one for a bit of cheek, turned to me a one point with a slight smirk saying “he’s a bit grumpy”. This resulted in the yelling and stair stomp.

We’ve all been there. Someone is telling us about a change happening to us or requesting a change they want to see in us. Or we’re doing the telling/ requesting. It might start as a gurgle in the moment or be a full on immediate explosion. Or it might be delayed, lying dormant for a few hours or days.

Sometimes anger shows up as rage, but it has many masks it wears. Below is an iceberg image from the Gottman Institute which is helpful in unpacking anger. But also in recognising potential symptoms. It also is good for giving us other words to describe what we are feeling.

Change is often accompanied by anger – they are one of each other’s many dance partners. And this is true regardless of the size of the change. And this is not just for children. We may not stomp upstairs or even yell, but there is lots going on inside us.

So when we announce or discuss change we should expect this in ourselves and in others. Giving words to our anger is part of increasing our emotional intelligence. Being aware of what is below the water line whenever we communicate a change (big or small) to our teams will build trust. It won’t take the feelings away, but will help us connect with people.

And this is true when we are introducing a new business process, a new technology, or when we are trying to make sense of a hurting world.

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor

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