Keep Trying

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Ineffectiveness of Anger

Have you ever wondered why smart people, with well reasoned arguments use anger, rage and contempt to communicate them. I am in a constant "conversation" with David Weinberger over this. In a recent entry Dr. Weinberger revealed his struggle with anger:

John Perry Barlow makes the case, eloquently as always, for reaching out, understanding, tolerance and forgiveness. Oh, you can see the thread of anger weaving through as well, but, that's the struggle so many of us are engaged in. Me, too, although I can see why you might think otherwise given my mood the past few days.

In the comments to the above post Dr. Weinberger writes:

So, can we be polarizing at the political level and civil at the citizen level? Of course. And we will be. But, from my point of view, America has become an imperial state that is further down the slope towards totalitarianism than I would have imagined ten years ago. So, if I say things that offend people who think we're headed in the right direction, well, then in that instance I'm probably not talking to them. Our side - yes, sides - gets to talk amongst itself sometimes. It's a blog so you're more than welcome to listen and dispute what I say - please do - and I will treat you with respect, but in my blog I promise you that I am not always going to be nice.

It was heartening to see that there was some concern over the anger. We all know that anger is one of the worst ways to communicate. When anger enters, rational thought, conversation and effective communication head for the exits.

I listen to Curtis and Kuby for about 2 minutes a day when I am doing errands in my neighborhood. Ron Kuby is one of the sharpest people I have ever heard speak, but Curtis Sliwa is consistently successful in arousing Kuby's anger. After the anger takes hold, Kuby sounds like an everyday ranter and any strong argument he may have made goes down the tubes. I know some of this is an act, but Kuby's loss of control seems genuine.

So why do we communicate with anger if it so ineffective. 1) We are not aware how ineffective we become when angry; 2) We don't have adequate tools to deal with anger; 3) We can't control our anger; 4) We become attracted to the emotional rush that anger brings in its wake. In any case, when anger, rage and contempt are your tools don't expect to fix much.