Anger experts tell us that anger is an emotion that arises due to a perceived injustice. Everyone gets angry. It’s a part of our human make-up so it’s important to accept anger as a normal emotion and not deny it when we’re feeling it.
However, as we all know, anger is a tricky emotion to handle at work. If you express it, it can easily come out in ways you don’t intend or that you regret later. And it can be hard to keep control of it, especially if you’ve been quietly seething over something for a while.
So what do you do if you’re feeling angry at work? According to the Centre for Non-Violent Communication (cnvc.org), there are four options; only two of which are recommended…
1. Aggress emotionally or physically against someone/something else
2. Aggress emotionally or physically against yourself
3. Connect internally with your own feelings and needs; provide self-commpassion and self-support
4. Connect authentically to someone else – especially, in an anger situation, explore the underlying needs of all parties, which often makes it much easier to come to a mutually satisfying solution
Obviously the second two of these approaches are the ones that’ll serve your better and get better outcomes.
Here are 7 practical things you can do to manage your anger and release it in healthy ways…
1. Take 5 really deep breaths
At the first sign of rising anger, allow yourself time for five really deep breaths instead of reacting immediately. This act will bring extra oxygen to the brain to give you greater clarity as well as time to sort out your thoughts. Walk away from the situation for a short while and take time out to calm down if you need to.
2. Take an Assertive, Not Aggressive Approach
There’s a fine line between the two. The difference is in whether you impose upon the other person’s rights or wellbeing when you stand up for your own. Try to model Nelson Mandela’s style – calm, strong, humble and constructive.
3. Work through the issue
Don’t just get cranky and have a go at someone but leave the problem unaddressed. Adopt a problem-solving approach. Sit down with the relevant person(s), look for things you agree on first, and then calmly try to find ways through to a workable resolution.
4. Release it from your body
Physical activity will process the stress hormones that pump through your body when you’re angry while also releasing feel-good hormones such as endorphins so you can feel better. After a good bout of exercise, I guarantee that you will feel calmer. Take a walk around the block. Go to the gym after work. Walk the dog in the evening – anything that’ll get it out of your system.
5. Release it from your mind
If you’re looking for an outlet to release your thoughts and emotions, try journalling. It’s a great way to feel like you’re talking to someone while keeping your own counsel. Expressing your feelings in this way can be very freeing and can sort things out in your mind. If you’re at work, you could simply use a word document and not save it.
6. Let it go
Do what you can to address the issue and then mentally unhook from the situation. Especially if it’s something you don’t have control over or the ability to influence the outcome.
7. Ask for help
Seek support from a trusted colleague, friend or family member. And don’t be afraid to use the Employee Assistance Program if you have one. It’s there for that very purpose.
Which will you do first, next time you’re feeling angry?