Bad Temper? 10 Tips to Help You Keep Your Cool

UPDATED: October 5, 2015
PUBLISHED: March 31, 2015

1. Understand that anger is a problem. About 80 percent of anger is directed at people we care about, but heart-to-hearts, cajoling, incentives or calm assertiveness are more persuasive approaches.

2. Monitor your madness. For three weeks, log the things that trigger your anger, the intensity of each flare-up on a scale of 1-10, your rage impulses (keying the neighbor’s car, maybe!), your actual reaction and other accompanying feelings. Revisit the log as a detached observer to assess and develop calmer responses.

3. Don’t react in anger. Anger compromises judgment, so leave that mad email in drafts for a day before sending it. You’ll probably back off.

4. Perform a rage replay. People often see their angry responses as righteous. Replay your fit in a mirror, and you’ll see what others see.

5. Look after yourself. Your stress level, hunger, energy level and so on will contribute to the severity of your mood. Take care of your needs, especially if a difficult situation is brewing.

6. Reframe the situation. External events alone don’t foment anger; it’s how you appraise them.

7. Don’t judge. If you view some of your rules as “how I was raised” or “my way of doing things,” then it seems unnatural to judge others for disobeying them.

8. Think like a scientist. Explain people’s behavior rather than condemning it. A scientific approach nurtures your understanding and can make the behavior easier to influence or accept.

9. Empathize. It’s hard to condemn someone if you understand where they’re coming from.

10. Get the facts. Angry people often misinterpret others’ behavior as hostile or deliberate. Before going nuclear, find out whether that is truly the case.

Got humor? Learn why one comedian believes laughter is the best way to keep your cool.

Steven Laurent is a clinical psychologist and co-author of The Anger Fallacy.