Let me tell you a true story. My very good friend almost slapped her boss at work!! Impossible, you may think, but it actually happened. The way she tells it, you’d think an alien invaded her body. She claims it was an out of body experience,and she didn’t know when she raised her hand to slap her boss. She caught herself at the last minute, but by that time, the boss had flinched in anticipation of the slap. Workplace anger is real! And this is one emotion that, if not controlled, could destroy your career.
I agree, we all get angry. Nasty emails from clients, insubordination from your juniors, or even personal issues could tip us off the deep end. Your blood pressure begins to rise, your heartbeat quickens, and sometimes you feel like screaming or pounding your fist at something. We’ve all been there.
I vividly (and shamefully) recall entering into a shouting match with one of the partners at my firm a couple of years ago. It was not one of my glorious moments. I’m one of those happy-go-lucky people, so when the shouting started, my colleagues had to double-check to see if I was really the person yelling at my boss (*covers face*). At a point, when the partner realised that we were both raising our voices, he had to calm down and gently address the issue. Truth be told, I was expecting to receive my exit letter or, at the very least, a query from management, but nothing happened. I suppose the fact that the client in question sent a very nice email to me (and the partners were copied), thanking me (profusely) for my response to the issues also helped pacify my boss.
When my hubby heard, the first thing he said was “what were you thinking?” I didn’t think at all. Anger has a way of giving you super powers; you begin to feel invisible. It is after you have calmed down that you realise the damage your anger has caused to both you and your organisation.
As a result of the corrosive effect of workplace anger, it is important to learn how to effectively deal with it. This is not to say that you’ll never get angry. You most definitely will, but it is in your best interest to learn how to work through your anger.
It’s always best to find out what the issue is. What is the cause of your anger? Is it the way and manner your colleague spoke to you? Was it an email or call from an enraged client? Is it a personal problem? Zeroing down the issue can help with the way you react. If it’s your colleague or boss, instead of lashing out in anger, calmly explain the offending behaviour. Try as much as possible not to confront anyone in public, or descend to name-calling.
Another way to deal with workplace anger is to take a deep breathe. Don’t react immediately by trying to put the offender in his place. Chances are that any exchange of words will heat up the place. When I realised that I say a lot of inappropriate (and hurtful) things when angry, I tried slowly counting to ten When that doesn’t work, I exit the environment immediately. This may be difficult if the cause of your anger is a superior, as you can’t walk out on them. Try deep breaths, or counting slowly.
I remember a tip one of my classmates shared with me. She said what she does was to imagine the person who’s yelling at her naked and in a circus show. This, she claims, works perfectly, but I’m not so sure. The picture is too gross to put in someone’s head.
Sometimes, getting it off your chest is the best way to calm down. But ensure you do this with someone you trust not someone who will use whatever you said against you. Also, make sure you vent outside of the earshot of other colleagues.
I know this may sound weird, but it works. This is the equivalent of hitting your head on the wall repeatedly, or putting your fist through your computer which is very harmful (please don’t do it). Try biting the inside of your cheek, or pinching yourself. Something safe that can help shift the focus of your attention.
Taking a few minutes to listen to your favourite tracks helps to calm you down. Check out a few of the songs on my playlist.
Admittedly, you can’t be going home every time someone angers you at work. It is very unprofessional, and I would advise against. However, there are days when you are just so angry that you’re fed up. Next thing, you start mumbling angrily like me “whatever will happen, let it happen. After all, the highest thing they can do is to sack me“. No, no. Please, when it gets to this stage, take an excuse and go home.
Or you can take your lunch break early. You can leave the office and walk around the corner. This will also help you to resolve your anger within you.
Have you ever experienced workplace anger? How did you handle it? Let me know in the comment section.