HUMAN RESOURCES / SEP. 18, 2014
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How to Manage Anger in the Office

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Mark Twain said it best when he wrote, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” In the workplace setting, having an outburst of anger is not good. However, we’re all human and have had those moments at work when something sets us off. Maybe a coworker’s annoying habits finally made you lose your cool. Your boss may have berated you for the last time and your anger came to the surface. It is important to acknowledge your emotions. However, all of your actions need to be responsive and not reactionary. This article will address positive steps on how to manage anger in the office.

Steps on Handling Anger in a Positive Manner

There are ways that you can remain professional and handle your anger in a positive manner. You need to have a mindset that responsive behaviour is always more effective than reactionary behavior. Childlike tantrums will not advance your cause in any way. Rather, it will showcase your immaturity and paint you in a bad light amongst your colleagues. The following steps will help you learn how to manage your anger and be more professional in the workplace.

1. Count to Ten

In a moment of anger, the first instinct is usually to open your mouth and react. We want to get our two cents into the discussion or argument and make sure that our voice is heard. However, that initial instinct to react in an angry tone or loud voice is never effective. When you are in the heat of the moment, it is important to take control of your emotions and count to ten (in your head, of course). Breathe and focus on the end result, not the hurt feelings or bruised pride. According to Swati Mittal Jagetia, certified professional coach at Purpose Squared, Inc., counting to ten does not remove the stressor. However “it buys you time to step back, put things in perspective, and bite your tongue before you say something you might regret.”  

2. Release the Emotions in Writing

A second important step is to find a way to vent your emotions. One way that you can find that emotional release is to write out your feelings on the issue. However, this is only for your benefit and not meant to be given to the “offender”. In my own experience, it has helped me to write my feelings down as a way to vent. That action gives me a new perspective on the issue and helps me to have the time to calm down while venting the negative emotions. According to Ms. Jagetia, you should never “put anything in writing [to send to someone else] when you’ve been provoked or a foul mood has taken over.” She also advised that once you’ve written out your negative feelings, shred the paper or delete the file since you wouldn’t want it accidentally getting into the wrong hands. Remember, this is meant to be an exercise to help you release your emotions, not speak to the “offender”.

3. Share your Angst with a Confidential Source

Writing down your negative feelings is good, but you should also cultivate one or two relationships at work with trusted colleagues—whom you can share with and they can reciprocate and share with you. This person needs to be reliable in keeping your discussions confidential. The last thing you need is to share the issue with the office gossip and have it spread around like wildfire. Make sure that the ally you have chosen to confide in is someone who you look up to. Align yourself with positive and professional people who know how to respond in an effective manner in the workplace. During this time, you need helpful advice, not something that is negative and will only fuel the fire of your anger.

4. Seek Outside Positive Influences

In order to succeed in the workplace, you should be making a daily and consistent effort to develop and cultivate your professional support network. These people are generally other professionals and colleagues that you know whom are not employees in your office. When an incident occurs at work where you have to deal with your anger, it is a good idea to have one or two of these trusted people on “speed dial.” Don’t abuse your privileges and call them during work time. However, take some time that day to discuss the situation with them during one of your breaks. You should have calmed down by this point, but it will still be helpful to hear a fresh perspective and get more advice on how to handle the situation from that point forward.

5. Take Some “Me Time”

When you experience a moment of anger in the workplace, it is important that you don’t work furiously through your lunch hour or any other breaks you get that day. For your own personal sanity, it is vital that you take your “me time” and do something that relaxes you and can help you find that inner peace. Now this will be different for everyone. Maybe you enjoy going out to lunch. Treat yourself that day and invite one of your trusted colleagues along. If you like taking walks, then get out of the office during your break and clear your head while walking. Whatever it is that makes you happy, indulge in it during that day. Finding your happy place can relieve your stress and help you to return to work with a more focused attitude.

See also: How to Manage Extremely Difficult Customers

Managing your anger in the workplace will help you to focus on what is important, which is doing your job and developing as a professional. It is important to first step back, and then think about your response before you speak. Venting your feelings in writing and then sharing with a trusted colleague is also helpful. Don’t forget to utilize the advice from your professional support network and take some “me time” during that day.

 

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