Some colleagues attempted to cancel a presentation I arranged with senior medical advisors.
When I read their email, a red mist descended.
The presentation was an opportunity to attract financial support for new ways of managing thousands of patients.
Some colleagues had thought it was OK to ignore the effort I made to bring people together, to ignore brokered agreements.
I jumped to all kinds of conclusions. Was I guilty of stepping on toes, challenging others’ territory, or falling foul of office politics?
If left unchallenged, the situation would have been an embarrassment.
Months of work and an investment of £760,000 were at stake, including my reputation.
I’m not precious about being credited for achievements, though I should be. But I do care about my reputation.
By chance, one of the people concerned passed my desk, and I ambushed him. He looked surprised because nobody in work sees me angry, or as I put it to him, “Not happy”.
Without raising my voice, but in a tone that left no doubt about my mood, I explained how I felt, and how it will look to everyone involved if we let them down at the last minute.
A change in tone and careful choice of words (e.g. avoiding the word fuck), got my point across.
My colleague, sensible as ever, kept his cool and recognised my composure simmered below boiling point.
Not long afterwards, he came back to confirm he’d got the decision to pull the presentation reversed — everything was back on.
The situation disappointed me for two reasons.
First, I lost my cool. I try to have a perfect temperament and meditate daily to monitor the monkey mind. Yet sometimes, my patience is short, and like the above scenario, I get angry.
Isn’t meditation meant to prevent anger?
Second, it worked. Losing my temper helped me get my message across, my voice heard, and the decision reversed.
Anger isn’t supposed to work.
With only a few days to the presentation, if I’d kept my calm and complained via email, I wouldn’t have changed anything.
Anger can benefit you sometimes.
Anger can get you noticed, and it can change things for the better.
Anger can stop you from being taken for granted.
But, anger worked this time because it appeared out of character.
Be careful, however, because anger can also backfire and get you into trouble.
Use it wisely and sparingly.