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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

The Celebrity Apprentice Freak Out – How to Control Anger in a Tough Situation

I have seen anger. I've worked with people who have been victimized, couples whose marriages have suffered extensive damage, and various people coping with trauma. Anger is an emotion that communicates a lot to other people but it may have incredible consequences to the person who feels it and expresses it. Did you see the anger displayed by Meat Loaf on the Celebrity Apprentice a few weeks ago?

Anger can contaminate your gut, create shaky emotions, and push people away. It is the extreme to being a "Debbie Downer." I enjoy reality TV because I can watch it and I don't have to process, defuse, or redirect anyone. But when I saw Meat Loaf on Celebrity Apprentice recently loose it with Gary Busey, it was a bit uncomfortable, even though I was just a spectator...sitting on my couch...eating ice cream...with my kids.

Being in the Smart Zone means you are working to the best of your ability, emotionally, intellectually, and behaviorally. The Smart Zone is where you display well developed Emotional Intelligence. When the tirade during Celebrity Apprentice happened between Meat Loaf and Gary Busey, it was a classic example of an exaggerated response. Meat Loaf was way, way out of the Smart Zone. He was freaking out.

We all would be lying if we said we haven't had an exaggerated response ourselves. We have all freaked out before. We just flew under the radar because it wasn't on national TV. Next time you feel like Meat Loaf, here are some Smart Moves that will keep you from freaking out and help keep you Living in the Smart Zone:

  • Try to feel your toes: I don't mean literally. You start bending over when you are angry and people will really be worried about you. Instead in your mind, concentrate on what the bottom of your feet feel like and get your breathing under control. I'd tell you to walk away but many times you can't. I'd tell you to count to ten, but that isn't enough. Concentrate on your feet and get your breathing under control.

  • Identify your one key message you want to communicate: Often when people are really angry, they say way too much. Sometimes people don't make sense. Do you want to say, "What you are doing is unfair" or "I'd like to suggest an alternative to your proposal" or "How can we work together to find a solution?" It is like a sound bite on TV. You will benefit from identifying the main message you want the other person to hear as their take away.

  • Keep it short: Especially in a work environment, don't let expressions of anger be a tirade where you go on and on about whatever it is you are upset about. But don't be a pigeon either. A pigeon is someone who swoops in and drops ammunition (my mother will appreciate my censoring this) and then immediately flies away. If you do that when you are angry then you will condition people to be fearful of you when you appear (just like I'm fearful with seagulls being fed French fries on the beach when I am visiting my hometown of Clearwater Florida).

  • Check your emotional temperature: If people in your circle of trust have told you more than once that you don't have control of your anger - believe them. It is very difficult for each of us to know how we actually come across to other people when we feel emotions of anger. If you have been told that you can be "scary", "like a bully" or "out of control" when you are angry, you will benefit from taking responsibility for the perceptions that other people have of you. Each of us is a bad judge of how we come across when we are angry, even if your intentions are good let yourself get caught up before reacting.

Let's all hope that Meat Loaf learned something about himself when he watched how he acted on Celebrity Apprentice. It was a bit of a mess, even if his reaction to Gary Busey was justified.

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