Do you get angry at work? Anger is a perfectly healthy human emotion that we all experience from time to time. But what do you do when something happens at the office that threatens to send you over the edge?
Imagine the scenario. You’ve spent days preparing for an important meeting but the client is in a combative mood and shoots everything you say down in flames. Or you’re called into the manager’s office and are severely reprimanded for something that wasn’t your fault. Or you’re trying to negotiate with a supplier who won’t accept that their service delivery was terrible. Or your project suddenly goes pear shaped at the 11th hour and you get the blame. The list goes on…
Inside, you can feel your blood pressure rising and you’re struggling hard to resist the temptation to scream at someone or punch something. How can you get a handle on your emotions that works for you as well as those working with you?
Here are eight top tips, provided by Mike James – a zen writer working with Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy – to help you manage anger in the workplace.
1. Breathe deeply and count to 10
The object of the exercise here is simply to resist the trigger. Rather than flying off the handle and giving everyone a piece of your mind, make a real effort to distance yourself from the edge.
Counting to 10 and focusing on your breathing are tried and tested mindfulness methods that help slow the heartbeat, enabling you to reflect on the situation and calmly choose your response.
2. Talk to someone you can trust
Discuss the problem with someone whose opinion you value, who understand the office dynamics and who you can confide in. If you can, take a quick break outside the office so your conversation can’t be overheard, and pour your heart out.
Venting is cleansing, and the simple act of telling someone else what’s happened may put things into perspective for you. Your confidante will offer sympathy and may even suggest solutions that hadn’t occurred to you.
3. Write it down but don’t send it
If you can’t resist the urge to discharge your negative feelings, do it in writing. Whether you scribble your heartfelt opinion onto a piece of paper or hammer out a candid email, you’ll feel much better after your demons have been exorcised in this way. However, under no circumstances should you send your missive. File it away until a later date and reread it when you’re calmer, then delete it for good.
4. Leave the building
Sometimes, you just need to put some physical distance between yourself and the situation to cool off, so go and get some fresh air. Take a brisk walk, have lunch outside or just sit somewhere quietly for a while to compose yourself and gain mental clarity. By the time you get back to your desk, things won’t seem half as intense.
5. Get some head space
Create some space in your head by distancing yourself from the stressful situation. A quick check of your Twitter feed? A few minutes perusing your favourite website? How about a game of Pokemon Go? Ground yourself by carrying out an activity that makes you happy. It will leave you calmer and more focused to deal with the situation in the office in a productive and acceptable way.
6. Get some emotional support
When you’re feeling hard done by, it’s important to be able to call on your personal support network. Text your partner for a virtual hug, call a close relative to feel loved, or meet up for coffee with a good friend to cheer you up.
Especially at times when things are going wrong at the office, you need to feel valued and appreciated by your friends and family.
7. Recognise your personal triggers
We all have ‘hot buttons’ that can trigger angry or violent responses without warning. The trick is to be aware of your personal triggers and to recognise them in time, before they overwhelm you. If you can learn to take a deep breath and step back from the brink every time your buttons have been pressed, you’ll have made huge progress in controlling your anger.
8. Reward yourself
Managing your anger is a real personal achievement, and you should be proud every time you’ve succeeded in averting an angry outburst. Give yourself some self-love to acknowledge the fact that you’re gradually learning to get a handle on your negative feelings. Time for a treat!
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