Director's Message: Civility ... have we lost it

Sept. 25, 2009
"You Lie!" Here's a test your temper quiz.

Everyone gets angry.

But a few weeks ago, three prominent people in three different walks of life, publicly and disgracefully "flew off the handle" — South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, Serena Williams and Kanye West.

Not only do these antics create buzz and discussion in regard to the topic of civility, people who easily "snap" or are "hotheaded" may be at greater risk for heart attacks or other illnesses — not to mention the risks of damaged relationships, unfulfilling lives, and feelings of worthlessness, public humiliation, and loss of income.

Test your temper with this quiz to see how much risky business there is in your life. (This quiz and "healthier ways" have been adapted from a variety of coaching and positive psychology surveys and references.)

True or False

1. I feel infuriated when I do a good job and get a poor evaluation.

2. When other people's mistakes slow me down, it can upset me for the whole day.

3. When I get mad, I say nasty things.

4. I feel annoyed when I'm not given recognition for doing good work.

5. I feel like hitting someone who makes me very angry.

6. I feel stupid and inadequate in challenging situations, and I hate that.

7. I get furious when I'm criticized, corrected, or embarrassed in front of others.

8. Sometimes I feel so powerless.

9. I often wish people who have hurt me could be punished somehow.

10. It doesn't take much to get me mad.

11. I blow up at terrible drivers.

12. I have a hard time forgiving others when they hurt or frustrate me.

13. I swear loudly to blow off steam.

14. I'm a very ambitious person, so sometimes I get impatient and angry with other people.

15. I've been known to break things when I'm frustrated.

If you answered "true" more often than "false," you may have a problem controlling your anger. It's helpful to realize that underneath anger are usually feelings of fear and hurt. Understanding your deepest feelings will help you curb your anger, get along better with co-workers and bosses, improve relationships, and improve your life.

Here are some healthier ways to respond to anger.
• I can — and often do — laugh at myself, or at a difficult situation.

• When I'm really angry, I remove myself from the situation and go for a walk or do some light exercise.

• I try to use "I messages" as much as I can instead of pointing fingers.

• When I begin to feel angry about a situation, I try to step back and figure out why I have let other people get to me.

• I understand where my anger comes from, as well as my habit of acting out angrily, and I am actively trying to learn a different way.

• I accept the fact that only I can make myself feel anger, that it is actually my choice to feel or not feel anger.

Happy Fall!
Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage

By Gary Hershorn, Reuters