Managing anger in the office is simpler than you think – and you can do it sitting at your desk!
9:00am to 5:00pm, stuck on a rotating chair, in front of a screen, making the same small talk with the same people since you started work. Deadlines are looming, e-mails are flying, and the pressure is mounting.
Let’s face it – anger, tension and outbursts in the workplace are inevitable. So how do we keep conflict clean? How do we express our anger and frustration in a productive way?
The balance is delicate. On the one hand, by biting your tongue you may eventually explode. However, if you are constantly aggressive you might lead yourself down a path of abusive behaviour. Sharing your frustrations with your work colleagues and letting your anger out can actually serve to strengthen your work relationships, and perhaps lead to a more productive team. On the other hand, shouting alarms people and could drive them away and it may impede on their ability to be productive.
Conflict is healthy and can be very productive. This is why learning how to express your anger in a clean and healthy way is so important.
Next time you feel angry try and follow these tips:
- Try to listen when the other person is talking. This is a sign of respect, and entitles you to the same platform to voice your opinions.
- Something to remember is that your opinions are not fact, and that everyone is entitled their own opinion.
- Expectations are a waste of time; they only lead to disappointment because they are unrealised resentments just waiting to happen.
- At the end of the day, an important lesson to learn is that it is ok to agree to disagree.
But in the heat of the moment it is really hard to remember these tips, and to make them routine. Start simply by becoming aware of yourself when you are stressed, or anxious, but most importantly try to become aware how you feel when you are angered. Do any changes in your body take place? Can you isolate the areas in your body where you can feel tension? Do you often get headaches? Are your eyes sore and dry? Are you unable to think clearly? Do you forget things? How many times have you let the ball slip?
While sitting on your rotating chair do a quick body scan – nobody has to know about it – and it’s quick and effective. Even though it’s not ideal to be in a work environment, it is a start (for optimum results try and do it in a quiet space, where you can disconnect from any distractions, and can make yourself comfortable).
Start by bringing your attention to your left foot. Curl and release your toes. Slowly begin to scan your left leg from your foot to your knee, then to your thigh. This simply means focusing your attention to those parts of your body, and to how they feel (if there is any discomfort, simply acknowledge it and move on from that thought). Reverse this scan, back down from your thigh to your knee, then from your knee to your feet and then curl your toes again.
Now, turn your attention to your right leg. Simply repeat the above exercise, reminding yourself to just be, to clock the feelings and sensations (even if they are painful) and to let those thoughts go.
To get the full body scan and take it home with you, go to www.beatinganger.com/body-scan-meditation-free-download which is an exclusive peek at an extract from my new book Mindfulness and the Art of Managing Anger. However, if you are at your rotating chair: slowly bring yourself back to awareness by focusing on your breath. Feel the air filling your lungs on your inhale, notice the gap between your inhale and exhale, and then feel the air over your oesophagus as you exhale.
Take a whirl on that rotating chair of yours and perhaps when you open your eyes you may be able to focus better and the tension that built-up in your body may dissipate.
Anger in the workplace starts with yourself, it isn’t a switch that gets turned on as you enter the office and turned off when you exit. Remember that carrying your anger with you will only make it worse, don’t let it build-up – unpack it. More importantly, unpack it in a clean and healthy way.
Even though these concepts may seem ‘far away’ and unrealistic to incorporate into your life, the only way to make a change in your behavior is to be the change.