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How to Control your Anger at Work

Everyone gets angry from time to time; what makes a difference is how your anger affects you and those around you in the workplace. How you manage your anger can make a big difference in your work life.

depressed man at work

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Excessive anger can lead to reduced work performance, serious health conditions, and safety issues at work. If you don’t get it under control, it can also ultimately cost you your job. It is important to recognize the signs of escalating anger and to understand how to manage your reactions. Here are some tips to help you keep your temper in check.

Voice Control

People will react very quickly to your tone of voice and its volume. Anger is often communicated with a loud voice and a clipped tone. You don’t need to raise your voice to get your point across. When you yell at your co-workers, managers, or your employees – they will soon become intimidated, and their productivity level will drop off. Studies show that workers who are happy are 12% more productive at work on three levels: creatively, effectively, and collaboratively.

If your usual mode of communication involves a raised voice, your lack of control will soon begin to harm your career. You will lose the respect of your staff and co-workers, and your company will suffer. Pay attention to the volume and tone of your voice. To avoid destroying any chance of successful teamwork, keep your voice at a steady volume, and get your point across calmly; your employees and colleagues will be ready to listen.

Body Language

Even when you maintain a calm voice, if your body language is aggressive it will damage your relationships with your co-workers and employees. Avoid using negative facial expressions, such as frowns, snarls, and sneers. Making eye contact is fine, but don’t stare or glare. Other non-verbal signs of anger include clenched fists, clenched jaw or teeth, shallow or rapid breathing, pacing, and finger-pointing.

When you are talking to an individual, don’t invade his or her personal space. Maintain a distance of an arm’s length whenever possible so that the other person doesn’t feel crowded. When using hand gestures, keep them small and infrequent. Be sure that they cannot be misunderstood or interpreted as insulting.

Understand your Anger

To truly control your anger, you need to understand the cause. It might be that you are holding back a point you need to get across to your team to avoid confrontation. If this is the case, you should address issues as they arise so that they don’t have time to escalate and trigger your temper. Perhaps you need to assess your expectations. Are you demanding too much from your team, and becoming frustrated when they can’t meet your deadlines? Think about your anger triggers and see how you can eliminate them realistically.

Share your Feelings

Managing anger is not about holding back. What is important is that when you share your opinions, you do so in a non-judgmental manner. Avoid casting judgments and building up a defense to justify your anger.

Instead of making accusations, express your viewpoint and ask for feedback.

Anger Quiz to Help Identify Where You’re at
  • Do you often become angry unexpectedly without knowing why?
  • When you are angry, do you feel as though you want to hit something or someone?
  • When something frustrating happens, do you find it hard to control your anger?
  • Do you find yourself having heated arguments often?
  • Do you get angry with yourself when you lose control of your emotions?

If you have answered yes to three or more of these questions, you need to reassess your anger management skills. Examine the situations that trigger your anger and try to pinpoint common causes so that you can change or avoid them. Think about how you can use techniques to prevent your anger from escalating.

Tips for Curbing Your Temper

Still having difficulty controlling your anger at work? You can use these tips to help quell a tantrum.

  • Mind your breathing: Instead of just opening your mouth and snapping, take a breath. It’s an old cliché, but counting to ten does work because it gives you time to think. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose and give yourself time to put things into perspective.
  • Write it down: Getting your thoughts down on paper can be a good way to release emotion. But remember, once you have written it down, delete it or throw it away. Don’t send it out or it may come back to bite you later when you have calmed down (and had a better chance to analyze the situation from a more clear-headed, calm perspective).
  • Talk to a colleague: If you want to vent, choose the colleague you trust the most, so your venting doesn’t go any further. A short venting session can make a big difference on your day, and when you’re talking to a close ally who will listen and empathize, it will not only help put things back into perspective, it will also make you feel supported. Make sure you’re prepared to do the same for your friend when he or she is in need.
  • Take some time out: If your emotions are intense, then it’s probably a good idea to take a short break. Removing yourself temporarily from the situation will give you time to calm down and reassess your situation. Take an early lunch break or go for a walk outside. A bit of time to yourself and a change of scenery can help you blow off steam so that you can return to work with your feelings under control.

To keep tabs on your anger, try to be aware of your tone of voice, body language and the types of gestures that you use at all times. Remember, these are all factors that can intimidate your employees and colleagues and affect your relationships with your team. Maintain a level volume, a calm tone and minimize gestures when communicating with individuals in your workplace. This way you and your team will be happier, healthier and more productive.