In Praise of Anger

The content this week contains thoughts on anger.

Daniel Goleman, of Emotional Intelligence (EI) fame, quoted Aristotle to add color to his definition of EI. As Aristotle put it, “to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

Aristotle’s quote predates (by a long time) the work of Goleman and others on EI. It also highlights how anger, in the right measure and delivered in the “right” way, is very much a part of communicating to others with emotional intelligence.

Perhaps it’s just my blind spot but it’s easy to think that communicating with EI means never making the audience of your communication uncomfortable. That is not true. Indeed, masking anger or other strong negative emotions is emotionally un-intelligent. You rarely fool anyone about how you truly feel and removing anger altogether robs your audience of important information.

The trick is to modulate your anger to the point where people keep listening and do not withdraw in fear or ignore your distress. Too much anger shuts communication down. Too little anger and your message is easily dismissed. Like the temperature of Goldilocks’ porridge, you need your anger to be “just right.”

The goal of increasing your emotional intelligence is NOT to be like Spock (unemotional). It is to be more sophisticated when communicating so that how you are feeling does not overshadow the content of your communication.

Let us know if you have questions.

The quotes:

“When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.” ― Mark Twain

“When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.” ― Thomas Jefferson

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mark Twain. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from Web site:

Thomas Jefferson. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from Web site:

Ralph Waldo Emerson. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from Web site: