Is workplace anger making life miserable?

anger-in-the-workplaceA topic that seems to have raised its head on a regular basis over the past few months has been that of anger. Perhaps prompted by us at Jaluch supporting a lot of organisations with redundancies, grievances and disciplinaries at the moment…. a real hotbed of change and unrest perhaps brought on in part by the changes we see in the political and social landscape around us.

We see anger at the Company, anger towards managers, anger at colleagues, anger at the perceived injustices of whatever is occurring, anger that results from feeling powerless, anger at not getting what you want, even anger at being taken to task for misbehaving (aka bullying, racist or sexist behaviours or rubbish performance generally at work).

As many of you will know Anger is at stage 2 (of 7 stages) of the Change Curve. It’s understood to be an inevitable part of how all of us deal with, and respond to, change.

Sometimes, things happen that we aren’t happy or comfortable with… which isn’t a problem (it’s a natural part of life) unless it’s left to fester.

Have you ever worked alongside Mr, Mrs or even Mx Angry? It’s soul destroying – working alongside someone who oozes negativity all day long. For a while we can deal with it, but even just a day or two is enough to bring the strongest of us to our knees.

And if it’s us who is the angry one, well just the thought of negatively impacting our colleagues and family often compounds the misery if we can’t shake it off.

A while ago I came across the following quote which really appealed to me:

“Anger is like drinking poison, then waiting for the other person to die.”

Have you read that? I hadn’t heard it before. It’s true though, the anger, at the end of the day, harms no one but yourself and those around you who you would probably wish no harm on. It rarely harms the person or thing that made you angry in the first place.

So what do we do about our angry people in the workplace? Here are a few of my ideas:

  • If they are angry at the world changing around them: show them the Change Curve. Let them know that what they are feeling is entirely normal but that what is important is that they feel angry and then move on. Getting stuck at angry is damaging.
  • If they feel powerless at what is going on in the business: ramp up your employee forum so that it starts to be more supportive of staff. Take the hint and grasp how important it is to genuinely involve employees in your decision making at an early stage. Give them training in commercial awareness so they better understand why certain decisions have to made and the complexity of juggling all the responsibilities. Put more effort into building and motivating teams so that people’s social needs continue to be met in the workplace.
  • If they are stuck in ‘Anger’: Offer them one to one coaching to help them develop strategies to move on. If it’s more serious than that, look into some occupational health support or send them to see their GP/doctor. If they just need to grow up though, give them a talking to and let them know that each and every one of us has to ‘choose our attitude’ at the start of each working day, however we are feeling inside. Some might be surprised to learn that attitude is a matter of individual choice, rather than something that is thrust upon us.
  • If they are angry because they have been caught out misbehaving, warn them that any demonstrations of anger on their part will exacerbate the situation and could result in (further) disciplinary action. Don’t feel you have to tip toe around this and don’t stick your head in the sand either. J Perhaps you also need to address their ‘victim’ mentality and remind them that adults have to face the consequences of what they do. All actions have consequences and if they are not old enough to take responsibility for their own actions then they are probably not yet mature enough to hold down a job.

And just to finish, I wanted to say that that it is miserable to feel angry, but it’s even more miserable to be around someone who is angry. It affects our wellbeing and inevitably company profitably or productivity too. So don’t let Anger just fester and go unmanaged, as it has the power to destroy everything you are working towards.

It’s National Anger Awareness Week, so please share any of your strategies for, or successes with, managing Anger in the workplace in the comments box below. I would love to hear them.

Read more about Anger Awareness Week.

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