This an article contains proven steps and strategies on how to manage anger in the workplace, control and carefully eradicate anger issues that you may be facing while at work.
Anger that is manifesting itself at the workplace is generally rooted in more close to home issues, which are either going unresolved, or un-noticed, except in your subconscious.
This is why this guide begins by first getting you to acknowledge your anger, resulting behavior and then carefully leads you on into a journey of self-diagnosis, where you discover exactly where that anger is rooted.
Dealing with anger is a long step by step process.
Here I talk about how to deal with your root problems then about how you can watch for and prevent outbursts, while you simultaneously start working on how you are thinking, as well as carefully eliminating the negatives from your life to begin with.
The following text contain within them specific examples from actual workplaces, and are used alongside specific human resource management techniques to depict how the latter are used to combat such situations.
How To Manage Anger In The Workplace:
Understanding Your Anger
To begin with, let us be honest. We all get mad. Anger is as much a part of our day to day as breathing, or sunshine.
In normal situations anger is not even really that big a deal, it is when anger begins to take on a mutant rage like form, that is out of our control and when it begins putting on shows in the most inopportune places like at work, or in your relationship – that anger or ‘getting mad’ as we so eloquently put it – becomes an issue.
The worst possible place to lose your cool is probably the office, I mean, everyone has tiffs but, bringing out those self same ‘problems’ in with you to work, not only showcases you as the most unprofessional of employees but also the most unstable – both of which can and will have lasting effects on your colleagues, boss and even your underlings!
This is exactly why, managing your anger at work is so important – without even having gone in to details you are already thinking about how unfair it is that you are judged based on your reaction to idiots or idiotic situations and do you know what that means?
It means you are already a being controlled by your anger and its ramifications. Sucks doesn’t it?
Well thankfully for you, being stuck with your anger issues is not an unsolvable problem – at least not anymore!
The first thing you need to do is take a nice deep breath!
Yup! You heard me right – just breathe for a second.
Now slowly count backwards from three.
Did you feel that shudder go down your neck? That’s you letting go, and that is just the beginning.
In this post you are now going to be introduced to a revolutionary 10 step program that will not just help you control your anger, but will help you obtain a certain level of anger relief so that you can officially be a better you!
Now, the first two steps you are going to have to take deal with you coming to terms with and understanding your anger.
Anger is not something that is just there, it is a reaction, and this is something people often forget. But keep in mind that, as a reaction anger must always have some form of a base trigger.
What you need to do is figure out exactly what your base trigger is – so that you can find out exactly what it is that is causing you to act out, and more importantly lose control.
1. Acknowledge Your Anger
For most people the hardest step to take is the first.
Much like the seven stages of grief, denial tends to top the chart and precede any form of anger manifestation as well.
It is very common for a person to say, ‘I’m not mad!’, or ‘I don’t have anger issues.’ – Whereas the question was never whether they have it – but how to deal with it given that they do.
Now think of yourself as that person, stop questioning whether or not you have anger management issues, or anger issues, simply assume that you do.
This is often the hardest part of the entire process, but if instead of fighting the thought that you may have anger problems, you can stop and instead try to actually see your anger issues, pick out how they are manifesting and then you will find yourself a lot closer to getting a reign on things.
2. Question Your Anger
Now, as you accept the presence of anger in your life – what you now have to do is try to understand your anger.
Think of your anger as you would a puzzle. What are the missing pieces? Where do they fit?
In this case the employee with divorce problems is obviously having anger issues, however simply knowing you are having a ‘problem’ is not going to solve your problem – not until you start to question and break down cohesively exactly what the issues are and why you are having a problem.
So go back and question your anger – why is the divorce causing you to have such extreme reactions?
Are you still in love with your partner? Are you angry at your partner because of a specific reason? What is that specific reason? Are you blaming yourself? Is the anger an expression of guilt?
If you keep questioning your anger and the various manifestations of your anger you will soon find yourself faced with a reason, this reason is your base line – it is the reason your anger and frustration began to build up and now that you know why it exists you can either try to fix it or come to terms with it so that it doesn’t bother you as much.
Having accepted, acknowledged and now taken steps to understand what your anger is all about, it is now time to talk about how you are going to get a hold on this particular demon of yours.
As in all good management plans the key to the anger-free you lies in the details.
We have already explained how tiny life details such as insecurities, self-doubt, feelings of unfairness and misplaced frustration can become fuel for our inner Dr. Banner.
What we now have to figure out is when does this outburst happen, how is it triggered, what warning signs we happened to miss and how to evaluate them.
This is a major step in regards to dealing with anger issues as it breaks down the stages of anger, and allows you to slow down the process enough to catch up and stand guard.
The fourth step, which will follow this trigger evaluation, is the actual reigning in of the temper and the rebooting of the thought process that took us to that particular point.
Here, having learned to identify triggers and signs, we use Pavlov’s Theory to condition ourselves to not act out in anger, and ultimately to not get angry at all!
3. Look for Signs and Triggers
Every time you are angry or can feel yourself about to be angry you will find that you are going through a pattern of sorts.
These are your body’s warning signals telling you that you are not in the best of moods – for some this can begin with an increase in your pulse rate, tense or clenched jaws, flushing and sweating and for some people the involuntary clenching of their fists.
These however, are the more prominent factors – the one’s you can’t miss. Your body’s warning signals actually kick off way before this.
During intense or uncomfortable situations, you will find you have a tendency to cross yourself – physically speaking, for some people they cross their arms, for others, they cross their legs, and for some it’s both.
This crossing is your mind telling your body to be defensive, or closed off and is very often an early warning signal that you don’t like what’s going on.
The other signal that, you should watch out for actually doesn’t have any physical manifestation unlike the examples provided above.
This however is actually one of the easiest ways to pick up on your changing mood, and it’s all about words.
When we talk to others or even to ourselves we tend to use specific tones and words.
What we don’t always realize is that the words we are using both aloud or in our head – say a lot about what we happen to be feeling – such as the use of ‘fine’ instead of ‘great’.
The more negative your word selection gets, the worse you are likely to be getting mood wise – which is why they always tell you to hold your tongue if you don’t have anything nice to say – laudable advice in the office where something as minor as a colleague coming in late can trigger ‘office talk’, where you might not come off as particularly gracious.
More importantly, the second you find yourself holding your tongue, or being less than positive, give yourself a quick check by asking yourself–
- Are you getting mad?
- Why do you think so?
- What can you do about it?
4. Thought Control
Of all the steps in this guide, this is probably, the one that sounds the least probable.
I mean how often have you heard of someone changing how they think?
What we need to understand is, we aren’t trying to ‘change’ how we are thinking, but rather control our thoughts for a certain window of time.
The thing is – the angrier we get, the less rational we get which ultimately means not only are we no longer rational, but we are also susceptible to exaggerated or even illogical thoughts which tend to feed the anger.
Instead reign yourself in by asking yourself questions like:
- How true is what I am saying?
- Is this something I would want to say in front of my kids?
- What is the upside to this, which I missed?
While we have talked about anger, where it stems from and how to best control it what we haven’t taken a closer look at is where it happens.
Like war prone areas, there are also ‘zones’ in your office where you are more likely to be drawn into conflict, and there are ‘zones’ where you can stay safely neutral.
While staying neutral, or not being vocal may feel like it goes against who you are, keep in mind that a professional image can be tarnished for an argument you were in the ‘right’ as easily as when there was an argument where you were in the ‘wrong’.
Either way you will be considered as a ‘problem’ employee – which nobody wants to be.
Instead, the next time someone tries to drag you into the gutters of office politics or when you find yourself getting particularly aggravated or confrontational with an employee or boss – what you need to do is take a step back.
Not for them and not because you are weak or scared, but simply because you are smarter than that.
5. Taking a Time-Out
It is very easy to get caught up in a moment and let your anger get the better of you, especially in highly charged situations, since there tends to be such a large investment of personal emotion, that render you incapable of thinking clearly.
Now before you get defensive and claim that you are perfectly capable of being rational and level headed – take a deep breath and think for a minute.
Lawyers and Judges are not allowed to stay on cases where they have any conflicts of interest with clients, because they may inadvertently affect what should be their unbiased behavior.
In fact, Doctor’s Code of Ethics states that they are to abstain from treating patients they are emotionally involved with as it compromises their standard of care.
The rationale behind the Time-out is very much the same.
If there is an office disagreement that you are emotionally involved in and believe could affect you adversely or positively, if at all possible take a step back and get out of there.
Since you are neither a Lawyer nor a Judge, you don’t have to abstain from the discussion altogether, but go take a walk when you start getting over excited, go clear your head, try breathing in deeply, and most importantly try to stay calm and unruffled.
Giving yourself a mini-timeout, or a forced break, is important.
It gives you time to calm down and come back with a clear head, which is a crucial part of your personal anger management program.
6. Relaxation Techniques
The next thing that we need to know how to do is relax.
Going off to take a Timeout won’t help unless you come back with a cooler head, and just how does one manage to come back with a cooler head?
Why by using these two key relaxation techniques of course!
The first technique is the easiest, it’s about breathing right. When people get angry they tend to raise their blood pressure levels by accidently breathing shallowly and quickly – don’t.
Slow down. Take deep breathes, where you are visualizing the air going in through your nose, travelling down your wind pipe and all the way down to your tummy.
Then carefully let your breath out through your mouth with a soft push.
The second simple technique you should try out once you have managed to regulate your breathing.
Go find yourself a place to sit down, where you can close your eyes for five minutes.
What you are now going to do is a common mediation exercise where you release tension through your mind.
Having closed your eyes, visualize your body, now starting from the top of your head, mentally visualize your muscles relaxing one by one, all the way down to the tips of your toes.
Take your time, it is suggested that you start with your scalp and the back of your neck, and then slowly make your way down your spine.
By the end of this exercise your body should feel as if you’ve just gone through a massage, and your mind should reflect the calm of such a post-massage moment.
What to Say and What NOT to Say
Now that we have gone through all the necessary cooling down procedures, we are officially back to the actual talking part of your Anger Management control center.
Obviously you cannot always simply avoid a difficult situation.
There are always instances where you need to maintain your cool and actually talk it out – it is during conversations like these that you need to understand what you need to say and what you need to avoid saying both through actual words and subtle subtext.
7. Talking Without Negatives
When having a conversation, try to mitigate resentfulness by using positive ways to say whatever you want to say.
For example instead of saying ‘Mark got a promotion he didn’t deserve.’ Say ‘Mark has been very lucky to get where he is.’
The simple reframing of the statement takes out what sounds like a vicious edge and makes you sound less envious and more conversational.
It also allows your subconscious to be more positive and this simple forced positivism can effectively make you feel more positive in the long run.
8. Clarifying Expectations
Another important step in Anger Management teaches you all about how you represent yourself, how you should represent yourself and how clear you are in your expectations.
If a conversation with your superior has left you with the impression that closing a certain deal puts you in the chair for a promotion or a raise, the best thing to do before you get all excited and start working overtime is actually clarify it.
Talk to your boss, tell him what you are interpreting his words to mean, and then make sure that you are both on the same page.
This simple action not only allows you to ensure that you are not misinterpreting what you have been told or asked to do, and also gives you a safety net, where you have your boss on record actually clearly stating what he wants and what he is willing to give for it, so that he can’t back out later and say – that’s a great job, but the promotion was never what I was offering.
It’s a lot like clarifying your stance with an oral contract, where there has been a clear offer and acceptance that you can rely on later, if you need to.
The final two steps of your Anger Management at Work program are probably the two most crucial of them all.
The first deals with choices, it is about who you choose to be in a situation and how to maintain that leeway of being the better person and the bigger person.
Following this is the very last and tenth step of the program, which is all about forgiveness.
If you have been wronged or if you have wronged someone, remember that apologies are a great way to start over, they allow you to display empathy and help make you that bigger, better version of yourself.
9. Choose not to be Angry
It sounds slightly odd that someone could possibly simply choose not to be angry. It is none the less very true.
While a bad situation is simply a bad situation, how you react to it is indeed a choice, the very fact that you are going through this article means you want to take an active step towards the light and not be in the dark place anger takes you.
While not every situation will have its upside, you will always get a choice to view each situation in a better light.
Instead of being mad over the fact that you were passed up for a promotion, be glad that you weren’t one of the many employees that was fired or laid off.
Be thankful and optimistic and remember that you almost always have the choice to choose not to be angry.
10. Apologizing and Starting Fresh
The last and final step in this program is apologizing.
If you have Anger Management issues, or have had Anger Management issues in the past that has affected your behavior with co-workers, superiors and juniors, give your work atmosphere a positive reboot, by going up to them and apologizing for your behavior.
Apologizing gives you control over yourself.
It is a way of admitting to past mistakes and taking responsibility for them that then allows you to at the very least try to start afresh.
And just like that, we are done.
Ten simple steps to taking control of your Workplace Anger and with each one of them you have not only brought yourself closer to an anger free version of yourself, but have also given yourself an alternative way to address problems and tackle them.
Simply put, you have given yourself an out.
Long gone are your days of being a slave to your temper or outbursts, instead say hello to the new you, the you that you have always wanted to be.
I hope this article about how to manage anger in the workplace was able to help you to understand your anger and find ways to control, and relieve workplace anger in ten simple steps.
The next step is to try the ten step program and put it to test. Please feel free to share them with your friends who may need them too.