When did you last feel angry at work? Perhaps it was at a colleague who wasn’t doing their share of the team project. Or your boss for being unfair to you? Did you miss out on an expected emotion? Or a vendor who wouldn’t accept responsibility for a poorly delivered service riled you up? It might have been a subordinate who should know better but never does?
Anger is a necessary human emotion. One that should not be repressed. Yet, you can’t allow your anger to define how you react to situations. If you throw a mug of hot tea at a co-worker or throw the vendor out the window, you could get in plenty of trouble that could damage your career. It’s even more important to control how you direct anger towards subordinates. No one likes to work for a boss who publicly humiliates them and disrespects them at the slightest opportunity.
Even if your anger is justified, reacting from a place of anger is not going to improve your productivity. It can do quite the opposite. Anger has a way of spilling over to affect other issues not related to the one that made you angry. When in anger, you are less likely to make rational decisions and can take a lot more risks than you normally would. It’s the reason people drive off at speeds well above what they normally would and end up crashing into a trailer. Every day you are required to make a number of small decisions that end up having big impacts over time. The more of those you make in anger, the more likely you are to one day make a decision that ruins your career.
You will get angry about something at work. That is not the problem. The problem is what do you do with that anger. If you let your temper get the best of you and you hit someone, they are not likely to think well of you.
Ask yourself if you can do anything about it
If you find yourself getting angry over a situation, ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it. If there is something productive you can do about it, then do it. Even if it’s to talk to the person (in a civil manner) that is making you angry. Avoid the temptation to yell when you’re angry. If a colleague starts yelling at you, yelling back might not be the most productive thing you can do. Many people don’t realise it when they raise their voice. Looking them in the eye and telling them in an even voice “Do you realise you’re yelling?” is often enough to make them conscious of their behaviour. If they calm down, you can have a civilised conversation about what’s on their mind. If they don’t, tell them you will not speak to them until they stop shouting. Leave the room if necessary and allow them to cool down.
Vent to someone
If someone really riles you up and you feel you can’t bottle it in, call a trusted friend, sibling or spouse. Talk to them about why you are angry. Remember, you want to get things off your chest not yell at them. It’s not their fault you are angry. Just talking about the matter helps. They can offer a listening ear, sympathy and may even have a perspective on the matter that you may have missed.
Did you get angry at work recently? How did you deal with your anger? Are you happy with your reaction? How can you do better next time? Have a story you want to share about a time someone made you angry? Drop a comment below.