Anger and Shaming

Back in May, we wrote about anger being praiseworthy. When it comes to motivating and focusing the efforts of others, anger knows no peer. But, as Aristotle said, “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.”

The point is simple, being angry works at getting another’s attention and at motivating him or her as long as it’s done with some emotional intelligence or sensitivity to the how the anger is interpreted by the recipient. Too little doesn’t achieve the goal and too much tends to be paralyzing (remember: right person, right degree, right time, right purpose, and right way).

Recent events cause us to revisit the issue of expressing anger. A refinement, if you will.

Being angry includes several risks. There is the risk of paralyzing the target of your anger. There is the risk of impacting others, a kind of collateral damage. There is the risk of kindling anger in others and escalating conflict.

There is also the risk of shaming as anger can unleash shame causing statements that would otherwise be withheld.

Angry people sometimes state or imply that mistakes and underperformance are due to laziness or incompetence or stupidity, etc.. It does not matter if this shaming is done intentionally or unintentionally.

When shaming happens, it quickly becomes personal to the recipient. It’s one thing to be called on the carpet for making a mistake. It’s another to be shamed for making a mistake. Imagine feeling the anger of your boss for making a mistake or underperforming and then add being held in contempt by the boss to the mix.

Being shamed is much more inflammatory to the recipient than being the target of someone’s clean ire. Shaming is ultimately counterproductive because it builds resentment and active or passive rebellion, neither conducive to getting work done.

In the simplest of terms, we believe anger in the right measure is okay and even productive while shaming, unintentionally or intentionally, is not. A subtle but critical difference.


The quotes:

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” ~Plato

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses.” ~ William Arthur Ward

William Arthur Ward Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from Web site:

Plato Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from BrainyQuote.comWeb site: