BY VANESSA ROSE
With growing stressors and ever evolving employee needs, it’s a challenging time to be a leader. And while it may be getting more and more challenging to manage, the expectations of leadership remain high. But with growing resources and tools to better manage stress, cultivate work/life balance, and address mental health needs, learning how to manage your anger in the workplace can be supportive of your professional growth rather than an obstacle.
How to Manage your Anger in the Workplace?
If learning how to manage your anger in the workplace is atop your list of professional development goals, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few helpful tips to get started:
Self-regulation begins with awareness. Many people, especially in stressful environments, don’t even recognize when they’re feeling a certain emotion. Instead they project that emotion outward into their environment where they can identify a problem, and thereby demand a solution. While there may be problems in the environment, if the root of the reaction is within your emotional self, no outward solution will actually do the trick, especially if en route to that solution, you act in a way that is unprofessional or not in line with collaboration and respect for colleagues and employees.
So we must first begin by getting to know ourselves. This includes gaining an understanding of what tends to trigger your frustration, what early warning signs indicate that your anger is present and may escalate, and how anger, stress, or anxiety even feel in your body. Learning how to slow down and be less reactive is a necessary tool, as well, so that you can put some distance between the emotion and what words actually come out of your mouth. This may seem like overwhelming work, but conflict coaching or other similar programs can help you begin to get more acquainted with these cues.
Learn New Communication Tactics
While you may be used to saying whatever needs to be said to get the job done, you may realize speaking effectively and respectfully has more of an impact. This is because work is not just about productivity and bottom lines, is also about the people and relationships involved in getting the work done. So improving your communication skills can be a helpful way to be more engaging with others, providing safer two-way feedback loops that lead to greater impact and less frustration.
Learning how to manage your anger in the workplace is a necessary skill, especially if you generally tend to struggle with your anger. Work is obviously a more stressful situation so when emotional conflict in the workplace arises, there’s little room for error. In this case, it is not important to be right or to win the argument. What’s important is first to de-escalate the heightened emotions. So don’t bring up new arguments, try to prove a point, keep harping on old points, or dig your heels in. Instead, take a break, take some time to breathe, and encourage those around you to do the same. Apply de-escalation techniques so that when the conversation is ready to be had, it can be had by people in rational states of mind rather than emotional states of mind.
Lead with Compassion
Leading with compassion toward your employees can cultivate a company culture that relies on forgiveness and understanding rather than judgment and persecution. The latter is a hotbed for conflict-inducing tension and sentiments, pinning people against each other, assuming the worst, and fueling lingering negative energy. But in order for compassion to be sustainable in a work environment, it needs to be truly modeled from the top down. And that, along with emotional attunement and regulation, must start within the self.
So ask yourself this: how do you speak to yourself when you make a mistake? How do you hold regard for yourself if you fail at a goal, miss a deadline, or make an error in judgment? Do you relentlessly badger yourself for things you did last week? What you said in the meeting or how much money you lost in the deal? If you can’t have compassion for yourself, it will be difficult to maintain providing it for others.
The truth is, learning how to manage your anger in the workplace is an inside job. It’s a necessary job in order to be an effective leader and will have broad and long-standing impact, but it must start from within.