Etiquette Tips for Handling
Anger at Work

Angry Boss

Handling anger at work isn’t always easily claimed.  When an emotion is labeled as someone else’s fault, trouble is bound to follow.  But applying etiquette-ful behaviors to a tense situation can bring comfort, a sense of competence, and calm to you and others viewing the situation.

Your Work Environment

Here’s a funny quote I saw recently: “I don’t need anger management – I need people to stop making me mad!”  Whether your workplace is relaxed or stressful, unless you work all by yourself, disagreements will arise.  The escalation of an angry situation is just around the corner unless one or all people involved immediately jump in and de-escalate.

Ultimately, the responsibility for managing your anger is your own.  Even if the words or actions of someone you work with lit the flame of your emotions, how you react is your decision and will determine if the flame is extinguished or set ablaze.

Etiquette-ful Actions for Handling Anger at Work

In angry situations, finding connectedness is vital.  Etiquette plays a direct role in determining the outcome of your attempts to connect with someone who is having a hard time handling anger at work.

Five outwardly etiquette-ful actions to help others connect with you:

  • Smile when you speak to someone.
  • Look directly at others when speaking to them.
  • Keep your distance; your body language conveys your being present.
  • Arms to your side, palms open when you speak conveys openness.  Quick or unnecessary movement, keeping your arms crossed, or appearing distracted, shows the opposite.
  • Validating another’s concerns, even if you don’t agree, makes them feel as if they’ve been heard.

Five inwardly etiquette-ful actions that help others connect with you:

  • Let yourself feel the desire to make the angry person feel important.
  • Choose to pay attention!  Keep your phone out of sight, off the table.
  • Stay positive; find something uplifting and appreciative to share.
  • Make true the philosophy that you are there to help.
  • Be firm as you remember to live the values of your business.

Managing Your Own Anger

If you ever find yourself angry at work, here are a few self-care tips to help in the moment until the feeling subsides.

  • Count to 20 while slowly breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Say a prayer.
  • Walk awhile outside of your workspace.
  • Find a place to be alone and just breathe.

If you know you are prone to angry moments, think ahead of time of a few strategies for yourself.  Write them down on a notecard.  It matters only that they are written somewhere you can access them easily.

Self-talk during and after experiencing anger or a tense moment can be helpful.  We give ourselves pep talks before important moments, why not do the same for angry moments?   Reminders to yourself such as “you are the only one who can make you look bad” can help rein in a particularly negative reaction.

This statement also reminds you of your responsibility for your own self-presentation.  If someone else is trying to make you look bad, you can more easily thwart their efforts by keeping a cool head.  In fact, the tables might turn. 

Handling anger at work, or anywhere else, is best done when you can think clearly to get to the root of what is really happening.  Let your curiosity overrule your reactions.

“Hatred and anger are the greatest poison to the happiness of the good mind. There is, in the very feeling of those emotions, something harsh, jarring, and convulsive, something that distracts, and is altogether destructive of that composure and tranquility of mind which is so necessary to happiness, and which is best promoted by the contrary passions of gratitude and love.”

~ Adam Smith

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