November 28th, 2020

Why There’s Never a Reason to Get Angry Over Others’ Mistakes

Not allowing your emotions to negatively affect your performance is a generally accepted golden standard to strive for. 

As someone reading an article such as this, you’re likely already in tune with the types of emotions you feel throughout your day. You know which feelings aid you in your goals – whatever they may be – and which emotions drag you a little further back from striking things off your list of to-dos. 

For instance, you likely already know that being nervous to the point of your throat drying up and your knees shaking is not an effective precursor to delivering a presentation in front of others. Though nervousness, as a feeling, can often aid our performances in the right amounts, the effects of feeling too nervous are widely recognized. 

People try limiting themselves from reaching states of feeling and emotion which negatively affect their own personal performance in the world. They take medication to limit their tendency of becoming unproductively anxious, and they meditate in the mornings in an effort to even out the emotional hills and valleys they experience throughout the day. 

This article however, takes an external perspective to the internal emotions you experience in your day to day. 

The focus on this page is to explore how the emotions you display affect the productivity and performances of those around you. 

The specific topic of showing anger in the face of mistakes made by members of your team, family, or friends is explored below from the perspective of encouraging excellent performance from them, not you. Especially if you find yourself in a leadership position of any kind, attuning yourself to the subtleties and effects that your reactions to others’ mistakes have is important to get right. 

The assumption being made is that you serve to personally benefit from not allowing your anger to dull the performances of those around you. 


A Distractor: It Only Takes One Time to Birth Paralyzing Anticipation of Your Anger


The effect that guard dogs have on the psychology of innocent people passing by the property they guard leads to an interesting analysis. Since a guard dog isn’t able to differentiate the motives of an innocent stranger versus those of a burglar from the get go, anyone coming close to the guarded property is met with similar warnings. 

The feeling of being startled by a barking dog on guard as you pass by the fence it’s behind never really leaves you. We grow to anticipate the moment at which we’re startled by the proximal, angry barks emanating from somewhere in the lower half of our field of view. As we walk by the fence in question the next time, and the time after, we just can’t rid ourselves of the anticipation that is birthed that first time we get genuinely scared. 

Even if that anticipation doesn’t manifest into an action of walking faster past that fence, it does well to distract us enough to take our minds away from whatever may be important in that moment. 

Your anger in the face of others’ mistakes draws similarities to being startled by a guard dog as you walk toward the bus stop in the morning. Just one angry instance can be enough to birth a sense of anticipation from those who’ve made a mistake in your presence. 

Their anticipation of your anger in the chance that they make a mistake is a distractor in itself even if they’ve not yet made any mistakes. Not only would your anger encourage a certain rigidity with which they complete their tasks, it would be a constant reminder which takes their mind away from focusing on the present moment. 


A Diminisher: The Encouragement of Shortcuts, Disinvestment, and a Lack of Initiative


The act of completing a task without mistakes versus excellently completing that task, differ in nature. A deliverable without mistakes is satisfactory; it satisfies the requirements at hand without obvious errors being present. A deliverable which is excellently completed exemplifies originality, creativity, and initiative to meet the requirements while further exceeding expectations and adding value on top. 

Establishing a flinch like anticipation to your anger among the team you manage will discourage them in exceeding the most basic requirements of any task. 

They’ll view their attempts to go above and beyond in terms of creativity and initiative as too risky to perform. If they were to attempt to make a deliverable excellent as opposed to simply satisfactory, they’d need to take risks as they infuse their creative thoughts into the work. It would seem less burdensome to withhold from infusing their work with creativity if they are constantly anticipating an angry reaction to anything you may not approve of. 

As a result, the people who’ve experienced the angry reactions you’re susceptible to showing in the face of their mistakes will often elect to take the path of emotional comfort. That path does not involve taking risks which may not go to plan and trigger your anger. Without those creative risks, however, personal and professional growth slows. 


A Destroyer: The Ruining of the Relationship With the Task at Hand


As your habit of getting angry at others’ mistakes grows and swirls into further toxicity, the habits of those around you will morph as a result. You’d not only suck out the desire for others to infuse creativity into their work and performance, you’d suck their joy in performing that work as a whole. 

Even if you elect to eat your favorite food every day, you’ll surely grow tired and bored of it sooner or later. 

The people you have power over will lose their interest in what they do for you when the apprehension of your angry reactions discourages them from challenging themselves to always improve. 

They’ll become monotonous and robotic in an effort to not draw attention to themselves. As a result, they’ll begin viewing the tasks they perform for you as simply things they need to get through unscathed rather than tasks which have the potential of contributing to their personal growth. In addition to not growing personally and professionally, they’ll begin despising the work they do because they’ll feel trapped within its confines under your reign. 


The Result As It Affects You


The points made above are descriptions of the effects that your anger in reaction to others’ mistakes has. The summation of even the most subtle effects can amount to large consequences. As someone who either manages, leads, or supervises a team, do not underestimate the effects that sucking the energy out of your team and their work has on you. 

It can be comforting to believe that the effects of your angry reactions to mistakes are localized within the minds of those you get angry at. The truth is much more destructive to the person who has allowed anger to barge through the gates of emotional control. 

The person who allows anger to be in the driver’s seat as soon as something goes awry warps the reality of their own surroundings into falsehood. Their subordinates begin filtering their communications and work habits. People around them begin dressing up serious issues with calming commentary in an effort to not have to deal with the anger which would spill out. 

In essence, the people who allow anger to prevail in the face of others’ mistakes hurt themselves in a fundamental way: they falsify their own reality. The consequences of discovering the fact that everyone around you has been tiptoeing as to not trigger your anger will be devastating when the stakes are high and the issues can no longer be solved. 


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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.