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Centerpointe Research

displaced aggression

Misplaced Anger

English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...

English: A metaphorical visualization of the word Anger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We think we can’t be angry and take it out on the real cause of our anger so we displace it onto something else.  Often we do this without thinking.  Have you ever kicked a waste can, a dog, or even a car when something goes wrong.  How often has a spouse taken the brunt of the abuse when the real target is not available.  Misplaced anger can be dangerous.  What about all the mass murders of innocent children and adults?

How often are we taught what to do with our anger or other feelings when we can’t express them directly?  Emotions are powerful and are often the motivation behind our behavior.  How often have we been told it is not appropriate to express our feelings?  Men shouldn’t cry and people shouldn’t express grief because it makes other people uncomfortable.  We can be fired without reason from a job and we are expected to meekly accept this and not cause a fuss.  All these unexpressed emotions can build up and cause unfortunate results.  They create stress and stress does terrible things to our body.

Expressing anger indirectly can cause a chain reaction especially if there is a pecking order which determines who can get mad at who.  People in power use it to make sure that if they are the blame for something, they don’t get punished for it.  Some people actually get paid for taking complaints from other people about a product or service and these jobs can sometimes only be held by desperate people who can’t find anything else to do.


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Misplaced Anger

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following up on yesterdays post, Displaced Aggression, we are going to look even more carefully at times when we get angry at the wrong person or about the wrong thing. We think someone or something “makes” us mad and then when we get mad this way, we can easily take it out on someone else or something in our lives that really didn’t deserve it. The person or thing that we initially got angry about may no longer be present or may be some person or thing that we think we can’t be safely angry about. This is when anger is misplaced onto a convenient scape goat. People often take their anger out on persons or things that did little or nothing to them.

There are two things to consider here. One is that when we get mad about something, it is at some level that we “decide” to feel angry about someone or something. We think that we are “justified” in being angry. Many people have been taught that they have a right to become angry when certain things happen and when they happen, that they can’t help but get mad and possibly even that they can not control it. People like this have very quick tempers and it seems as if there is no stopping them when they get angry about something. It often follows that these people take their anger out on the wrong person or thing. It is also true that different people feel different ways about what they are “justified” to get mad about. Wars have been fought over this.

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Displaced Aggression

Have you ever been in a good mood and lost it when you came in contact with somebody in a bad mood?  With customer service jobs, this is a job hazard, which may not be addressed during job training.  Any job where you are the first person (and maybe the only person) with whom the public has contact in a business can be a virtual minefield.   An office administrator told me, she had a hard time keeping receptionists; because the people who worked in the office would expect the receptionist to deal with the persons who had appointments with them when they were running late or had to cancel an appointment at the last minute.  Sometimes these people would not even notify the receptionist that there was going to be a problem and people who showed up to see them found this out after they had arrived for the appointment.  You can guess what happened then.

I had a consulting job doing interviews for a government agency.  I was  not an employee of the agency.  I just saw the people whom they had scheduled for me to see and submitted a report to the agency.  Once I got close to being killed because of this.  The government agency’s contact with these people was often by phone and when they did see these people there were security guards present and security cameras on site.  This was not true when I saw the person and sometimes I was the only person with whom they had actual in person contact.  At the end of his interview with me, one guy told me he had planned to bring a gun to the interview, but somebody had talked him out of it.  This was after he had, during the interview, told about a situation where he had unsuccessfully stalked someone with a gun.

Nice Reception people at DICE in Stockholm

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