How can a manager control his temper?

Which one is more effective: talking or barking?


When it comes to controlling emotions (temper) it is always easier said than done. But it can be trained and it all starts with creating self-awareness about our emotions. Having such awareness specifically denotes the importance of having a high degree of social & emotional intelligence in the discipline of management (the managing of others, whether employees, business relations or random members of our social circles).


We all know the cliché that is not so much a cliché actually but closer to a fact:

you can’t control something you do not know well


you cannot manage others if you can’t even manage yourself.

I try to remind myself that emotions can always choose the rational path of calm words (smart & effective communication) instead of deeds and automatic reactions (impulsive communication). But our emotional reactions are naturally faster than our rational considerations. That’s a bio-physiological fact we can’t do much about, but can only tame gradually through training and lots of practice.


If you think about it, you can always TALK about your emotions; how angry, disappointed, misunderstood, tensed, worried or impatient you are about a certain employee’s attitude or performance, instead of BARKING OUT these emotions.

But the problem of emotions control often arises when:

  1. We think that our true thought/position in a certain situation can only be fully communicated, understood & respected by others when it is accompanied by emotion.
  2. We think that others will only take us seriously when they see our emotions (which can be true by the way depending on your audience and their level of social intelligence)
  3. Talking is viewed as a sign of weakness (culturally or group-collectively) and barking as a form of strength (also, culturally or group-collectively).
  4. We are not the talking type that releases regularly and timely but the type that bottles up impressions about others until they evolve into powerful untameable emotions that erupt at once like a volcano in the most poorly-timed & destructive manner!


Controlling emotions does not necessarily imply suppressing them, but rather channelling them to reach effective communication. That’s why a face-to-face setting is usually preferred in solving conflicts, with as less external factors as possible influencing the calm & effectiveness of communication.

Communication is best served when conducted in a rational manner based on words and voiced thoughts that describe our emotions clearly & constructively, instead of uncontrolled eruptions that describe our words and thoughts poorly & destructively.


Which one is better a discussion or an argument?

Let’s compare both and find out for ourselves.

discussion at work-openanswer

A discussion is a communication style of which the outcome is not predefined, while having “mutual understanding” as a pre-determined final goal before entering into it. A discussion is supposed to lead to the best solution of a given problem, a clarification of a misunderstanding or the best valuation of an idea, to mention some random examples.

Such “understanding” is to be reached & accepted by all engaged parties at the end of a discussion, based on healthy communication, proper exchange of ideas, information or opinions and genuine agreement (as opposed to artificial one for the sake of muting “high volumes”). It’s a collective, non-selfish & constructive process by nature (even if no outcome is reached yet).

Quote Michael P. Watson

An argument, on the other hand, is characterised by the “will to win” clearly visible through the show of interruptive emotions. An argument is less effective than a discussion in most cases but can be necessary depending on the counterpart’s openness to having a calm discussion. Having an argument is mostly the result of us being unable to suppress whatever emotion that we have at a given moment of discussing a topic, whether anger, impatience, anxiety, disappointment or sadness etc.

Paradoxically enough, having an argument at such times can be a healthy release of pent-up negativity; one that needs to be out of the way, first, for a calm discussion to take place.


I find arguments to be generally ineffective & counter-productive than discussions because their goal is either:

  1. Predefined: when we argue for the sake of arguing (releasing negative energy because we WANT to), OR
  2. Non-defined at all, when we argue because that’s all we can do now (releasing negative energy because we CAN’T discuss calmly)

Quote by Joseph Joubert

Therefore, enforcing an arguing style of communication is a counter-productive, selfish & unfair form of communication aimed at convincing the other party of one’s points of views, legitimizing the use of irrational communication (shouts, fictitious outrage, refusal of agreement, interruptions, unmeant disagreements, lack of self-reflection, manipulation of facts etc.).

An argument is at its best when it means “a reason given in proof or rebuttal”, only as part of a debate or a discussion and not as a way of communication.


When do you know when to shut up, and when to speak?


Knowledge is knowing what to say, without necessarily saying it all the time. People by nature have an almost automatic aversion towards “know-it-all types”, even if they indeed know it all, most of it or mostly. Even if they “know it all” compared to the ones who think of them as “know-it-alls”. It is just how we are as people.

We don’t like to entertain the idea that people whom we perceive as our “equals in everything”, may suddenly not be so equal in something like “knowledge”, but actually higher than us. That’s why we are more susceptible to accepting the same piece of information (with a nod and a smile) shared by a professor, who’s clearly a PhD. holder, than from a colleague of the same age and education who read more books about the topic, including the professor’s own book on the topic, with only a Bachelor’s degree and an insatiable thirst for knowledge!

Sometimes the reason behind this “aversion”, is that the stereotypical “know-it-all” persons, indeed, tend to be smug & condescending towards others who know less, can do less or who are less extrovert with what they know.  Know-it-alls often have a total lack of the kind of social skills and empathy needed to pay attention to such a fact or to make such a quick observation of their surroundings, before they address others or share their knowledge.


Other times, the reason has mainly to do with the recipients of knowledge themselves. Such knowledge can be shared by someone who simply happens to know more, but it is often unnecessarily and unconsciously viewed by the counter-part as “threatening” to their own self-image or own standing (in a group). Such people are mostly insecure or less confident than others, but have a habit of channelling such insecurities the wrong way. There are many people who tackle their low confidence problem by welcoming knowledge from more knowledgeable people without the intervention of things such as “ego” or “comparison to themselves”, thereby turning a “vice” to their own hands by making it rather a virtue.

One can also say that if knowledge is factual, applicable and/or useful to the audience or to the discussion at stake, then it should be shared regardless of how it is received and perceived. But hey, there is a reason why people prefer watching certain types of TV programs; some may reject the idea of liking movies, soaps and entertainment shows and others may make jokes of those who watch discovery channel and national geographic as being “boring” or “not so cool”. A difference is there, and plenty of choices are there to make. And it is okay.

When to shut up

Mastering manners of sharing knowledge and knowing how to channel it responsibly and effectively is a sort of wisdom not everybody has. It is mostly related to age but more often to life experience, social skills and character.

It’s a waste of time, for instance, to share your knowledge of the solar system with those who are still “agnostic” as to whether “the earth is flat” or a “rounded globe”. (not such an extreme example, if you realize there may be people on our global earth, who still pick their brains around this fact)

And it’s also a waste of time to explain the importance of choosing the right accounting software for company operations, to a group of accountants who want to start their own accounting company, during a start-ups seminar, only because it’s part of your one-fits-all proven seminar-script as a coach or a speaker, that has always proven successful with previous seminar attendees.

Wisdom is knowing when, what, how and to whom you should say certain things and when not to.

Excellent communication is hearing “unsaid things”. Do you agree?

True, capturing “unsaid things” is the best complementation of verbal communication.

Sometimes “you say it best, when you say nothing at all”, like the words of the famous Notting Hill (1999) sound-track song, sung much more beautifully by Alison Krauss than BoyZone’s Ronan Keaton who performed the official sound-track.

(I will let you enjoy it first)

Some studies claim that non-verbal communication makes up 94% of all communication humans have with each other, while others claim that it’s just an exaggerated hoax, borrowed from a “showbizz” soap. Do your own research!

In any event, I believe that body language constitutes the bigger part of our communication. This is indicative of the importance of non-verbal language especially in informal contexts, where people tend to be more loose with their gestures, but certainly in formal context too (like in sales, negotiations or a job interview).

non-verbal communication

This means that abrupt or unexpected silence can be the same as verbally saying something. One can figure out what people are saying or intend to articulate but can’t, through their silence. And what they are saying can be captured through our eyes when in a face-to-face context or even through our ears. Say what?


Yes, when noticing that a weird unexpected silent gap is dropped over the phone or in a face to face context, contrary to the most common expectation, based on our common-sense or close familiarity with that person in question, the chances of being accurate in figuring out what is been told and not voiced, are big. These chances grow substantially when our sharp observation is backed-up by an intelligent “processing & interpretation system”.

This interpretation system includes our mastery of social skills as a result of having a high EQ (Emotional Quotient), the scientific indicator of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, on its turn, is often interchangeably, but not necessarily mistakenly, confused with another important part of our “intelligent being” which is “social intelligence”. It denotes our extra-ordinary ability (compared to others) to identify, understand, relate to and act properly upon our own emotions and those of others in different situations, even when nothing is audibly said or explicitly shared.



Having put forward all of this, I also like the counter-input that denotes that non-verbal language, while being extremely accurate sometimes, is tricky by its complex nature, since it cannot be checked or controlled. Also, it is strongly culturally influenced. For example, the famous Indian head-shake to the right and left does not mean “No”; it actually is a sign of agreeing to something or liking something. It is a “Yes” in Indian, while everything about it should mean “No” in many other cultures. (although an accompanying smile may cause some corrective confusing)

Add to this the fact that the interpretation of non-verbal communication is mostly left to the judgement & analysis of the recipient and, here comes the best part, the scrutiny and refute of the sender: “I didn’t say that! How can you even catch something that I haven’t explicitly said?”. Does this sounds familiar?


Were Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy arguing about something in the right picture? Or were they insisting on the other person entering first as a positive social gesture?

In formal business related dealings, non-verbal language can be a tricky form of communication. It may come in handy to know how your Japanese, Saudi or Nigerian business counter-parts expect you to greet them or build a trustworthy relationship with them, but don’t improvise too much and stick to what you know about them and to what you can exchange comfortably within your shared communication-context, topic or language.

In legal dealings it is no wonder that the foundation of some of the most important pillars of our modern society, like Law & Justice, are functionally based on tangibly felt and presentable unambiguous proofs of deeds committed, words exchanged or idea’s plotted, and less on “hunch”, feelings or non-verbal communication, making it both rock strong and full of loopholes, at the same time.