Anger is simply a feeling and attitude of displeasure caused by a perceived or real wrong.
It is not unusual or abnormal to have occasional feelings of anger. In the workplace, however, it is always a smart idea to control and resist the triggers of rage, which can be detrimental to you and those around you in your place of employment.
We interact, engage and deal with people around us every day. Almost all business pursuits involve frequent, if not continuous, interaction with other people. In a typical workplace, you will be in close contact with people on a day-to-day basis. This constant human interaction ensures that there will always be opportunities for conflict to arise. The reason is simple – we are human beings. Problems among people do exist in the workplace.
Most of us have experienced workplace conflicts at some point in our careers. Employees do get angry at work; sometimes, they report feeling angry at their boss, manager, employer, or co-worker.
As people, we are capable of offending others and equally subject to being offended ourselves. The question then becomes: How do you as an employee handle and resolve a dispute at work to avoid such feelings of anger? Is the only course of action to leave it to the employer to resolve all workplace anger and infighting?
As an employee, there are ways you can take the initiative to help yourself, as well as the company, by understanding better practices for anger management in the workplace.
It’s not just transgressions by your boss, manager, co-worker, customer, or supplier that can provoke an employee to get angry at work. The mere fact that having to get up and go to work is enough to cause anger – they simply don’t like their job. Tedious, repetitive, unchallenging, or over-challenging tasks at work can drive an employee to be upset. Work stress, dissatisfaction from various sources, and employees’ personal issues can contribute to anger. It’s never a good scenario – an angry employee can disrupt the productivity of the company and negatively impact its profitability. Angry employees can also cause unhealthy work environments. Angry feelings, tensions, behaviours, and attitudes among employees, left unchecked, can be disruptive and damaging to the work environment and bad for the company.
Therefore, the most sensible advice becomes: Don’t allow something or someone at work to get you angry easily or quickly, whatever the reason may be. The best course of action is to manage to hold your peace internally because a frequently angry employee is not good for any company or organization.
We can look to the Bible to provide us with practical insights, instructions, principles, lessons, and tips on anger management on the job.
James 1:19-20 (NKJV) 19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
This Biblical insight of being slow to speak applies very practically and helpfully in the workplace. These simple phrases, be slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to get angry, are plain and profound. Anger management begins with exercising control over oneself and wise communication. It is the simple step of pausing – delaying the build-up of anger and outburst.
We express our anger in our actions and through our communication. If you can control what is inside you, you can mitigate your overreaction.
Practice Silence & Self-Control
Practicing silence involves taking the time to listen proactively and attentively to your inner self. Silence during a dispute at work will give you time to think by analyzing and evaluating the situation before you speak and act. Being silent means observing the situation and considering all the pros and cons. By remaining silent in a tense or angry situation, you are better equipped to make a wise and appropriate decision in handling a situation where both parties (you, your co-workers or customers) will not lose but instead gain. Silence helps you choose your course of decision and action rationally and circumspectly.
Exercising Self-Control in your Communication
Very frequently, your anger will rise or fall based on your communication. This applies to:
- what you say
- how you speak
- when you choose to speak
- where you choose to speak
- who you say things to
All of these factors can escalate or de-escalate a situation. When a person is angry, what comes out of their mouth is often not healthy or helpful. It can be destructive and unproductive for you, the employee, the co-worker you conflict with and the company. It portrays a bad image of you among your peers at work and the company you work for in customers’ eyes.
Exercising Self-Control over Your Course of Conduct
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. Proverbs 15:18
Patience is a virtue; we are all acquainted with this adage. But patience is also a fruit of the spirit. To exercise self-control, one must be patient – meaning having the ability to tolerate and bear with a situation for a prolonged period without overreacting. By exercising self-control through patience, you can keep your emotions in check and be able to avoid or circumvent the consequences and costs resulting from your actions on your co-workers, the company, and your customers. Patience is needed to work under pressure and resist the temptation of boiling over in the workplace. Control anger before it controls you. The practice of self-control, via patience, is you being able to recognize your own tendencies for outbursts and awareness of the consequences and cost of your action on you, your company, co-workers, and customers. Choosing to temper your reaction and instead respond wisely, calmly, and appropriately is the most effective course of action leading to a solution rather than confrontation.
Practice Slow & Soft Response
Silence is golden is another adage we are all familiar with. Practicing silence immediately in a dispute and angry environment in the workplace will go a long way toward calming the situation before it is able to escalate. This will prevent an unanticipated outburst that could ruin your job and your company in one instant. Exercising self-control in your communication style and your course of action can help you manage and minimize anger effectively at work.
In the event of a slip-up and over-reaction, deal with the aftermath of your anger by practicing forgiveness of any wrong done to you, perceived or real, and directly or indirectly. Such an approach will free you from allowing bitterness, contempt, hatred, and resentment to settle in your heart towards your boss, co-worker, or customers.
The Bible teaches us to refrain from anger and forsake wrath (Psalm 37:8). In the workplace, anger can never produce a good outcome for both parties involved. Instead, it causes harm to both you as an employee and adversely affects your company’s reputation. Anger produces negative effects and unpleasant experiences. Workplace anger is unhealthy and unhelpful to you as a worker, co-workers, and customers. Therefore, it is best and fitting to apply wisdom by practicing:
- being silent
- think first
- exercising self-control over your course of conduct
- being slow to react
- being soft in your response
All these actions and responses to a tense situation can help calm it before it’s allowed to escalate out of control.
By Brahim M. Kallon, Contributor
Minister, Entrepreneur, Business Consultant and Leadership Coach