the angry project manager

Are you an angry project manager? Don’t misunderstand the question! If you smile, feel positive, your client likes you and your team adores you… this doesn’t mean that you are not angry. Psychiatrist Sheila Videbeck describes anger “as a normal emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation”, offense, wrong, or denial.

Wait a minute… isn’t this perceived “provocation, offense, wrong and denial” pretty much what we get all the time working as project managers? I get all four, how many do you get? (If you get three or less then you are a lucky one).

Most projects are tough, rough and mean. And as you know, the Project Manager is the only one to blame. Over the years, however, I got used to the feeling of being attacked - just like the construction worker standing at the edge of a non-fenced 50th floor of a skyscraper. Definitely that worker used to have his stomach’s butterflies all over his face when he first started his job, much like I did.

cognitive effects of anger

Wikipedia describes the cognitive effects of anger specifying that “anger makes people think more optimistically. Dangers seem smaller, actions seem less risky, ventures seem more likely to succeed, unfortunate events seem less likely. Angry people are more likely to make risky decisions, and make more optimistic risk assessments.”

WOW... that must be awesome! For Vin Diesel probably…

One of the cornerstones of successful project management is decision making and realistic-calculated risk taking. Now read Wikipedia’s last sentence again…

It’s not that awesome now, is it?

“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” Mahatma Gandhi

problem solving in project management

Due to the constantly demanding feature of projects, a project manager will be required to make decisions to solve problems all the time. Rita Mulcahy taught us that in order to solve a problem, a successful project manager should:

  1. analyze the situation
  2. consider the solutions
  3. assess the solutions
  4. make the decision

However, Project Managers get angry all the time due to the so called “provocation” (even if it’s not the external type of anger). Thus, impairing the ability to correctly place problems and decisions in their correct perspective. So, I came up with my own strategy for problem solving:

  1. Goosfraba!
  2. analyze the situation
  3. consider the solutions
  4. assess the solutions
  5. make the decision


Goosfraba is a word that Eskimos say to their children to calm them down. It is also the word used in the movie Anger Management by Jack Nickolas to cool down anger patients.

As a project manager one must be able to understand his own ticks, triggers and more importantly, how to calm down his anger. Perhaps it’s a cup of coffee, a song, kid’s photo, travelling, cycling, bathing… Whatever it is, just try to uncover your ‘Goosfraba’ strategy that makes all the anger go away and clears one’s mind re-enabling the realistic thinking mode.


Photo credit: © Sergey Nivens -

Fadi Abdelkader
Fadi Abdelkader

I’m a Certified Project Manager and Scrum Master with a diverse experience and a record of deadline met projects. I’m specialized in IT systems and solutions, in addition to my experience in managing accounts and client relations across multiple industry domains including Banking, Government, Consultancy, Energy and IT.

I left Orange Business in 2014.