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  • Writer's pictureBahar Önderol

Hostility and Anger


Düşmanlık ve Öfke ile baş etme
Hostility and Anger

Yesterday, while waiting in line at a supermarket to buy bread, I witnessed a fascinating conversation. A woman in line was complaining to the clerk about her migraine pain, saying, “May God not let such pain befall my enemy.” The clerk insisted, “Oh sister, let him put it upon his enemy; I will curse my enemy,” trying to convince the woman that cursing her enemy was the right thing to do. This small interaction is a microcosm of how anger can distort our view of others, leading us to act on harmful assumptions.


Anger can be triggered by unfair treatment, insults, humiliation, or obstacles in our path. It's an emotion we often encounter in the workplace, even though we strive to avoid it. A Gallup research shows that 20% of employees have wished their managers dead at some point in their careers, highlighting how prevalent and intense workplace anger can be. I recall a colleague who once angrily said, “I want him dead,” referring to her manager, whom she viewed as an enemy. This extreme reaction mirrors the origin of the word “düşman” (enemy), which comes from the Persian "dusmanah," meaning evil-thinking.


We perceive someone as an enemy based on their perceived intentions. However, since we cannot read minds, we often make assumptions about others' intentions. These assumptions, often unconscious, intensify our anger and lead us to actions we might later regret. We believe that cursing, shouting, and venting will make us feel better, but research shows that venting anger rarely provides relief.


So, what should we do instead?


One effective way to manage anger is to intercept hostile thoughts and replace them with alternative perspectives. For example, if a driver cuts you off on the highway, consider possibilities like "Maybe he didn't see me," or "Maybe he's rushing someone to the hospital." These thoughts can soften anger with feelings of compassion or at least tolerance, preventing it from escalating. Another technique is to practice mindfulness, which can help you become more aware of your triggers and reduce the intensity of your emotional responses.

When we are calmer, we are more prepared to discuss the situation that made us angry. It's crucial to express ourselves using "I" language, avoiding accusations, and to listen actively, aware of our prejudices and assumptions. This approach fosters healthier relationships by fulfilling our basic communication needs—to understand and be understood. By managing our anger and through better communication, we can reduce hostility and build more positive interactions.


Perhaps if the clerk in the supermarket heard this, he might say, “Sister, you are so naive; there are bad people in this world, and hostility will never end.” But by embracing these strategies, we can break the cycle of hostility and foster a more compassionate and understanding world, one interaction at a time.

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