Our careers and the work we do can be a great source of joy, provide many positive experiences and offer a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Work can also be a source of stress. Even in the most even-keeled among us, stress can build up and get the better of our emotions. Because we spend a significant portion of our lives in the workplace, chances are, sooner or later, you are likely to find yourself in a situation at work where your patience is tested.
Do you know how you will react? Maybe you already had a workplace outburst and the outcome was not so great.
Since 1998 The American Institute of Stress has conducted regular surveys on workplace stress. Anger is a normal, albeit powerful human emotion and is how many respond to stress. Below are some of the findings from their surveys that correlate workplace stress and anger management issues:
- 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half admit to be in need of strategies to manage their stress.
- 29% had yelled at co-worker because of workplace stress.
- 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress.
- 14% felt like striking a colleague but did not and another 14% said machinery or equipment had been damaged due to workplace rage.
- 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year.
Common Catalysts for Workplace Anger
So what is happening that is making everyone so stressed and angry? Typically, workplace stress and anger is manifesting from an unresolved issue that is generating feelings of anxiety, worry, fear of failure, humiliation or powerlessness. Below are some common examples.
- The promise of a raise, promotion or important project that never occurred.
- Instructed to do something that conflicts with personal beliefs or felt was incorrect.
- Unable to live up to expectations either due to the expectations are too high or they are continuously changing.
- An overly critical supervisor or a supervisor who micromanages.
- Feeling better qualified or skilled that superiors or co-workers who may do the same job for more money.
- Workplace anger is not always related to the job and may stem from outside work stressors. An employee who exhibits anger may be struggling with a range of personal events that is challenging their ability to manage usual stressors at work. Divorce, financial burdens, serious illness, financial strain, and other personal issues can cause an individual to become overwhelmed and irritated.
Your Attitude is Always Within Your Control
Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” There are many things in life we have no control over. We frequently face situations and circumstances outside of our control, but our attitude and how we respond to difficult situations is always within our control.
Yes, anger is a natural human emotion but there are ways to express anger in a healthy, time, place and appropriate manner. Inappropriate displays or harboring anger is not only damaging to your career and your organization but it can cause serious health problems and devolve into anxiety, depression and heart problems.
To successfully manage your emotions in difficult situations you must work to uncover ways to positively channel your frustrations. It is the “turning lemons into lemonade” strategy for anger management:
- First, try to identify the root cause of your anger. Focus on what triggered your anger. Ask yourself, in the scheme of things, how important is the trigger or issue?
- Concentrate on calming yourself down. This is crucial. You don’t want to say or doing out of anger that you will regret later. Many people find that taking deep breaths can help them relax. Counting to 100, stretching, or going for a walk or a run are other effective ways to relieve stress and cool off.
- Avoid further conflict. Try to be the bigger person. Resist the temptation to engage in a confrontation or argument that could further escalate the conflict. Sometimes the best choice is to simply walk away.
- Consider other points of view. If you are angry over something someone has done or said, try to see the other person’s perspective. Making an effort to understand the other person’s feeling may help to diffuse your anger.
- Talk to a trusted friend, family member or counselor who is willing to listen and serve as a sounding board. Just expressing your feelings can help to resolve some of your anger. While talking through your frustrations is a healthy way to release anger harmlessly, it is unprofessional to burden your co-workers unnecessarily with your frustrations. Venting in the workplace is unprofessional and can create a toxic environment for others.
How to Talk to Someone When Stressed or Angry
- Body language is important. Present yourself as relaxed and open.
- Use a calm voice.
- Be direct and specific about what’s bothering you.
- Frame your conversation as objectively as possible.
- Ask, do not demand.
- Firmly make your point, then give it a rest
Anger management is an essential life skill. Learning to effectively deal with and constructively resolve your frustration will improve your well-being and make you a more desirable and promotable employee