It’s not uncommon to hear or read of workplace instances where talented employees "lose it!" Workplace anger has been on the rise recently with variances of behavior from throwing the copier out the 5th story window to yelling at the security guard when the office key card does not work. When anger turns violent, you may find yourself with legal action and/or complete employment termination. At a minimum, anger can injure the feelings of colleagues, even permanently damage long-term relationships. Uncontrolled anger can also make employees less productive by causing stress leading to illness and retreated absenteeism. In a Harvard study, both genders that invested a good deal of time in the anger state, resulted in six times more heart attacks annually.

In the most callous situations, anger can ignite cultural disputes among departments. From incidents like these, we often hear that workplace conflict has been brewing or that a specific group has been in resentment for over a period of years.
What’s the difference between anger and resentment? Resentment is very close to anger except that anger is publicly demonstrated. Resentment is hidden, maintained as a private conversation internally by an individual or an entire functional group. Resentment grows silently, developing a culture all its own, because the involved groups can be in an unequal power position. Resentment often grows under conditions of the uneven distribution of power, the micro-managing director or VP. If the groups were to complain, they would essentially "pay the consequences."

Anger is a reactive emotion; and, is the psychophysiological response to distress, a perceived threat, acts of hostilely, injustice, or verbal abuse. According to anger studies from 1991, corporate executives often used anger as an effective manipulation strategy to change employee attitudes; and, reach specific company goals. Certainly theories of management have changed since then; however, we are seeing an increase of public demonstrations of anger. How do you recognize the symptoms of being in the anger zone?

Indicators of building anger or a true anger problem:

• Heightened blood pressure or shortness of breath
• Physical trembling or heart palpitations
• Attempting to control or dominate other people
• Feeling constantly attacked or unfairly criticized
• Feeling the need to shame others, specifically emotionally
• Feeling the need to physically abuse others or defend one’s self with violence

There are many strategies for dealing with anger to restructure how you respond to difficult situations, especially in the work environment. Remember that getting angry is not going to fix anything; and, it can actually make you feel worse over the resulting consequences. Try some of these strategies:

• Logic defeats anger. Anger, even when it's justified, can quickly become irrational. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. Instead of telling yourself, "oh, it's awful, it's terrible, everything's ruined," tell yourself, "it's frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not the end of the world."

• Examine your options over the rough spots. Often we have a finite worldview and do not look at alternatives for short & long-term resolution. Remind yourself that the world is "not out to get you.”

• Avoid ‘demanding’ anything, fairness, appreciation, or instant agreement from others. Use requests or state desires to attain collaboration & the willingness of others to cooperate with you.

When you think you are visiting the ‘anger zone’ too often, ask yourself:

• What are you afraid of and what feelings preceded the anger event?

• Are you judging others for a non-fulfillment of unspoken expectations? Do you think you are being denied something that is rightly yours and it is being withheld from you on purpose?

• How clear are you in your commitments to others and keeping them? Are you punishing yourself for your own lack of delivery on commitments, possibly taking it out on others now in anger?

• With an anger response, what you are trying to control? What is really in your individual control for resolution now? What elements of the situation need to be elevated to senior management for resolution?

• What structures do you need to create to experience a power of alignment versus just dominant control over another organization?

• Are you engulfed by your emotions and helpless to escape them? What can you do to escape a bad mood, regain control over your daily life; and capture your career pursuits?

• What triggers can you create for yourself so that you pause before you lash out at colleagues or the support staff?

• What are you hearing from your customers or colleagues, complaints, real requests, or demands? How can you respond with real solutions without resorting to anger or provocation?

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
Ambrose Bierce

Author's Bio: 

Bradley Morgan is a corporate and ontological coach who served as a hi-tech executive for over 17 years, in companies such as, IBM, Bay Networks, Premysis, and Brocade Communications. Bradley’s credentials include a BS from Georgia Tech, a MS from UCLA, a certificate in gerontology from the University of Boston (CGP); and a Professional Coaching Certification (PCC) through the Newfield Network program. In the telecommunications industry, she developed both domestic and international systems engineering teams for technical expertise and executive level leadership. Bradley is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), American Management Associates (AMA), the American Society on Aging (ASA); and the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA). Visit our Web: