Anger Management and Sales ManagementI was reading an interview with chef Brian Laird of Denver’s Barolo Grill, in which he said something very revealing. When asked to relate the hardest lesson he’s learned, Laird replied:

“My temper and stubbornness is never going to solve problems. I used to be really hot-headed about things, to the point where I’d jump up and down and yell and scream, just to prove my point, but at the end of the night, it’s just food, right?”

Right.

Keeping one’s cool can be a challenge at times. We all get angry occasionally, and more frequently in times of stress, like say, a recession, the holidays or the end of any month when you’re behind quota.

When I feel anger bubbling up in me (which occurs more frequently than I care to admit), I take a lesson from—of all things—a Star Trek novel. (I admit it: Star Trek books are one of my guilty pleasures.) Specifically, The Pandora Principle, by Carolyn Clowes.

The novel tells the back story of Spock’s Vulcan protégé, Lt. Saavik, featured in the movies Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In one scene in the book, Spock coaches a young, frustrated Saavik:

“I believe that you have a great deal to be angry about. I do not dispute your right to the emotion, only its usefulness to you. When one is angry, one does not see all the possibilities.”

There’s a lot of truth in those words of wisdom. Science has discovered that anger does in fact cause parts of the brain to shut down, preventing us from thinking and acting intelligently. Which means the first step we must take when we’re angry is to remind ourselves of how useless the emotion is. That can make it easier to calm down. Once our anger has dissipated a bit, we can focus our energies on dealing with the situation in a rational (or as Spock would say, “logical”) way.

So the next time a sale falls through, or your manager yells at you, or you have a problem with one of your salespeople, remember that anger is a natural, understandable response. And the sooner you clear your head of it, the better off you’ll be.

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