Workplace anger and hostility has been the subject of movies and funny sit-coms although it is not a joking matter. In the real world of business, inappropriate displays of anger can lead to all sorts of undesirable outcomes and in the most serious of cases, it can lead to you having to take anger management classes or even derail your career.
Are we getting angrier at work?
- It’s not that we are getting angrier; it’s just now more socially unacceptable to do so at work.
- Venting to colleagues isn’t appropriate anymore even with justifications like, “I was just frustrated.” It is unprofessional and it doesn’t matter if it’s in an office, a warehouse or a construction job site.
How does getting ‘too worked up’, affect your health?
- Your heart rate and blood pressure increase and over time and this can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
- Anger issues are connected to depression, anxiety, bulimia, Type 2 diabetes and even car accidents.
What’s going on psychologically when we get angry?
- Anger helps us survive, as it is a response to threats against us. We cannot however, lash out or get physical at everyone or everything that annoys us.
- We tend to cope with anger by expressing or supressing it and calm ourselves by making our needs clear without harming others.
- Supressing anger makes us become angry at ourselves or expressing it in a passive aggressive way to get back at others.
Maybe some workers are just more hot-headed than others?
- Not everyone expresses anger by lashing out.
- Some of us are more hot-headed than others, chronically grumpy and some of us become sulky and withdraw.
- People who anger easily have a low tolerance for frustration, feel inconvenienced and annoyed and lash out when things do not go their way.
What can you do if you have anger problems at work?
- Learn to calm yourself with slow, deep breathing and repeat words like ‘relax’, or ‘take it easy.’ Think about something relaxing and realize that the world is not out to get you.
- Use words like, ‘I would like this’, instead of, ‘It must be my way.’ Stop thinking that it makes you look bad if things don’t go your way.
- Focus on facing and handling the problem in the best way for you.
- If you are fast to anger, slow down and listen instead of jumping angrily the next time you are frustrated.
- If after you try all of the above, you are still angry and feel out of control and worried about your reactions, get some counselling.
There are ways to control the ‘angry birds’ at work and we owe it to ourselves to put our best foot forward, even if we are angry with ourselves, or with others.
For more on anger management please click here or check out my website at drjennifernewman.com. You can also read my column in the Working Section of the Vancouver Sun. Or tune in every Thursday morning for my weekly radio appearances at the CBC Early Edition.