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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 22-Jan-10

 


Friday 22-January-10

When to be angry

Is it ever good to be anger when you are trying to persuade others? Should you always keep your cool in changing minds? Whilst it is never a good idea to completely lose your rag, a display of anger can, if managed well, lead to a successful outcome.

An interesting study of anger in persuasion that throws light on this was done by Shlomo Hareli and colleagues. Subjects were shown videos of acted scenes where a person makes a complaint, getting angry and not, and in simple and ambiguous situations. What the found was that viewers thought getting angry was justified only in the ambiguous situation, for example where a technician had not anticipated an unusual problem.

My wife's a teacher and uses anger occasionally. She doesn't get really angry but puts on the act to gain attention to things like the need to work and being kind to others. She also knows that this is a silver bullet and cannot be used often. Children easily become acclimatised to loud teachers and it's often true in other areas of life.

Of course there's no place for real, hot anger, except perhaps where you are being physically attacked. Some people use it as a shield and a weapon: it makes them feel powerful when they usually do not, and  in this way can act like an addictive drug. Such people do not persuade, though they may coerce. The down-side of course is that they also accumulate enemies who may seek subtle revenge.

So the lessons are clear: be sparing with anger, stay in control and focus it in ambiguous situations where you need to demonstrate importance.

Reference:
Hareli, S., Harush, R., Suleiman, R., Cossette, M., Bergeron, S., Lavoie, V., Dugay, G., & Hess, U. (2009). When scowling may be a good thing: The influence of anger expressions on credibility. European Journal of Social Psychology, 39 (4), 631-638


Your comments


Thoughts about Anger,
There is a story concerning a snake that was biting people traveling to a certain temple. The pilgrims complained to the priest of said temple, imploring him to do something about this snake. The priest talked to the snake, asking him not to bite the pilgrims, surprisingly the snake agreed to stop biting. After two weeks of no reports of biting, the priest went to visit the snake and thank him. When he arrived, the snake had been beaten black and blue. The priest inquired as to what happened and the snake told him the pilgrims were beating him to which the priest replied, "I ask you to stop biting, not stop hissing."

-- Rob


Thoughts about Anger, There is a story concerning a snake that was biting people traveling to a certain temple. The pilgrims complained to the priest of said temple, imploring him to do something about this snake. The priest talked to the snake, asking him not to bite the pilgrims, surprisingly the snake agreed to stop biting. After two weeks of no reports of biting, the priest went to visit the snake and thank him. When he arrived, the snake had been beaten black and blue. The priest inquired as to what happened and the snake told him the pilgrims were beating him to which the priest replied, "I ask you to stop biting, not stop hissing"

-- Rob


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