In the fifth of seven articles on the Seven Deadly Sins of Business Neil Debenham looks at Wrath and how to manage it in the workplace.
Anger is a completely natural but wasted emotion, but it is also a very powerful one which needs to be kept on the leash. Nothing positive ever came from anger, it blurs your judgement and there are much better ways of expressing your disapproval without trashing the office.
Controlling anger is particularly difficult for the entrepreneur who, by their nature, are pretty mercurial and passionate people. There is not much difference between the intensity of feeling when you win to that of when you lose. You punch the air, your heart beats faster.
As a child, I always remember that when my parents got angry with me, it was far more powerful when they expressed disappointment rather than raw anger. More powerful still, was silence.
The trouble with anger is that it normally begets anger in response, which prevents contemplation and remorse. If you want to make a point, you need to allow your message to sink in. Shouting will not help. It is not constructive and will not yield better results.
The online publication Inc. notes that entrepreneurship brings with it a host of responsibilities and pressures that can make it difficult for them to manage strong emotions such as anger.
“It is important for small business owners to handle their anger in an effective manner. Expressing anger can be constructive when the true intent is to maintain, re-establish, or restore a positive relationship with the person who has caused offense. When handled professionally, constructive confrontations assure future harmony, better performance, and improved productivity. The key, of course, is to express anger professionally and as calmly as possible. It helps to be as specific as possible. State the problem as clearly as possible and then give the other party a chance to express his or her side. Listen, and try to understand what caused the conflict. Whenever possible, emphasize that it is the behaviour, not the person, that is in question or needs to change.”
The fact is that we live in the age of rage where expressing anger has become the acceptable norm. We find it on public transport, through road rage and, sadly, through our politicians who use anger as a war cry to make a political statement. Social media does not help either as millions of people vent their anger through the comfort and safety of their armchairs – Keyboard Warriors.
People then take this institutional anger into the workplace where, fuelled by stress, can boil over to become a disruptive force.
Neil Debenham’s tips for managing anger in the workplace are simple:
- Create a culture where failure is part of the learning experience and is not frowned upon. Don’t encourage it, but be tolerant
- Try expressing disappointment rather than rage, “I really feel let down by what you did” is better than “I am really angry with what you did”
- Pause before you shout. Analyse the situation to give yourself time to find a solution
- Avoid knee-jerk reactions like banging out an angry email or ordering a member of staff into your office immediately
- Find a regular release. Keeping fit and exercising is proven to reduce stress and anger levels
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