March Madness Management: Bite Your Tongue Before Blowing Your Top -- Could Texas Tech Basketball Coach Bobby Knight Learn How to Control His Anger? Can Anyone?

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Former, Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight is not the only person who needs to learn a new way to manage anger. Everyone does. Psychologists used to believe it was healthy for a person to "vent" his or her anger. Now the general consensus is it's not only unhealthy, it's counter-productive. of Norwalk Connecticut has created a new "anger management seminar in a box" for HR training professionals that helps them teach people why they need to bite their tongue before blowing their top.

"There are times that my passion for basketball has led me into confrontations that I could have handled a lot better. I've always been too confrontational, especially when I know I'm right."

--Former Indiana University Head Basketball Coach, Bobby Knight, apologizing in May 2000 after reportedly choking one of his players., a company that has created stress management training programs for The Mayo Clinic, The US Senate, Dow Chemical Corp and The Marines, has created a new program that just might help Bobby Knight deal with "March Madness." Designed to teach people life skills for overcoming hostility, this program explodes an old myth about anger.

For years, psychologists have been telling people to: "Let your anger out. Express it. Don't hold it in." As the result of this advice, people often believe their anger is going to somehow improve their life-situation. And they believe that it will help motivate others to change. This is what head coach Bobby Knight must have thought, when he would get angry with his Indiana basketball players.

But now there's a new school of thought that says: getting angry does just the opposite.

Think about anger from the perspective of the other person: Is that person on the receiving end really going to want to help someone who has just blown their top? Is that person really going to want to work harder and faster for a supervisor who is verbally abusive? Is that person really going to want to help the angry person solve the very problem that caused the anger in the first place? Not likely. So the angry person only makes his situation worse by getting angry.

In addition to jeopardizing interpersonal relationships and making things worse instead of better, anger causes health problem too. Chronic anger puts people at greater risk for:        

        Digestive disorders

        High Blood Pressure

        Heart disease




Anger may be the #1 reason why people get fired, are forced to retire early, or are not promoted. (Bobby Knight learned this lesson the hard way. He was eventually fired by Indiana University.) More marriages break up, more people get thrown in jail, more murders are committed because people don't know how to manage anger. And despite all the havoc it can wreak, anger is the problem people are the least likely to see a therapist about. (They're much more likely to seek help for anxiety or depression, for example.)

Besides the fact that anger is counter-productive and damaging to people's health, there are still even more reasons why getting angry simply doesn't make sense:

    1. When you get angry, you alienate your friends,

         family and co-workers.

    2. Your anger carries over into dealings with other people

        you aren't angry with!

    3. Expressing anger often winds up making you feel worse.

    4. Anger can undermine your efficiency.

    5. You set a poor example for your children and the people

        you work with.

    6. Your anger radiates outward: You get angry with a

        co-worker, who gets angry with another co-worker,

        who gets angry with his spouse, who gets angry with

        her kids and so on and so on.

Occasionally there are situations where getting angry is appropriate and useful. The pent-up energy in anger can occasionally be redirected; helping the angry person focus on concentrating more intently, working longer and accomplishing more. And it's certainly appropriate to become angry in the event of a physical attack. But more often than not, anger adversely affects a person's performance, their relationships and their own level of personal happiness.

If anger is so counter-productive why do people become angry in the first place?

The answer is: they believe their anger gets them what they want. They think that if they get really angry with someone, that the other person will behave better the next time. Or, that if they remain angry with someone long enough, eventually that person will come around to their point of view. But prolonged anger rarely changes anyone's opinion - except their opinion of the person who is angry!

(Bobby Knight found another job as head basketball coach for Texas Tech. His team lost in the first round of this year's NCAA tournament.)

This article was adapted from a new training program, entitled Managing Anger developed by James E. Porter, M.A.L.S, president of This program can be purchased online at or by calling 800-367-1604.


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