How to Deal with Anger at Work

Has anger ever caused trouble in your office? In a typical office setting, many people must cooperate to meet a deadline. They may work in close physical contact, perhaps without enough equipment or staff members to handle the workload easily. In such situations, anger can flare up from time to time. When people are angry they are more likely to forget safety precautions, cause or have accidents, make mistakes in their work and not get as much done.

In order to deal with anger it helps to recognize it. Anger usually takes one of two forms:

  • Suppressed anger. Because many people have been taught since childhood that it's not appropriate to show anger, a common response to anger is to deny or suppress it. The angry person may withdraw, giving others the silent treatment and refusing to talk about the problem. This kind of smoldering anger interferes with work and can raise the stress level for everyone. People with suppressed anger may find an indirect outlet for their feelings by gossiping about others or sabotaging a project. It's a mistake to try to ignore such anger in yourself or in others.
  • Explosive anger. Some people deal with the discomfort of anger by blowing up or blaming others. Attention is focused on blaming and punishing rather than on finding a solution. It's easy to react to these people with even more anger.

Getting to the Cause of Anger

Anger is a normal response to stress and can lead to positive results. The first step is to acknowledge the anger. By recognizing anger in yourself and others, you can begin to understand its cause and what to do about it. Give yourself some time to cool off, then be sure of the cause. Are you looking for someone to blame because you burned the toast or cut yourself shaving before work? Or do you have a legitimate gripe with another employee, one that needs to be talked out?

Act Positively

Once you have cooled off, express your anger to the appropriate person and work with that person to solve the problem. Be sure to stick to the subject, addressing your own feelings rather than attacking the individual. Here are two possible responses to a coworker who was late to an important meeting: "You're never on time! Why can't you be more organized?" or "I'm angry. I missed a deadline because you were late. How can we keep this from happening again?" Which response do you think might get better results?

Sometimes there is nothing that you can do about the situation that is causing your anger. When this happens, talk about your feelings with a supervisor or trusted friend and decide how to deal with the situation. Even if you end up making a decision to live with it, you will probably feel more in control, having made that decision consciously.

When Others Get Angry

When you see suppressed or explosive anger in another person, avoid reacting to that person's anger with more anger. Remember that listening carefully and acknowledging the person's feelings go a long way toward defusing their anger. This may be all the person needs to start dealing with the anger effectively.

waikiki panorama left

Prospective
Customers

If you don’t have an EAP, want to understand how EAP can help your bottom line and provide a positive ROI, or want to know more about us and how we’re different, we can help!

Read more

waikiki panorama left

Current
Employer Groups

If you want to know how to get the most value from your EAP, how to best use our services, or how to refer an employee who could benefit from our services, we can help!

Read more

Supervisors

Supervisors
and Managers

If you want to know how to refer an employee who could benefit from our services, how EAP can support your career, and get tools to make your job easier, we can help! 

Read more

Employees Photo 224x155

Employees

If you want to know what your EAP benefit is, how it can help you, the kinds of services you and your family can get, how to use it, and make sure it’s all free and confidential, we can help!

Read more