Neuroscientist and cognitive psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw looks at some useful tips for controlling your anger at work

Assistants are increasingly suffering from frustration, exhaustion and job dissatisfaction as the need to juggle more roles and tasks grows, as well as the demands of the constant onslaught of developing technology. Add to this an overly demanding boss or an argumentative colleague and many of us are quickly reaching bursting point.

Whatever the situation, it’s imperative that we keep our anger in check and have coping strategies in place to avoid heated confrontations.

1      Think before you speak

When we feel angry, it is very easy to get lost in the moment and to lose control and vocalise everything that pops into our minds without holding back. Whilst it’s natural to go on the defensive if you feel like you’re being attacked, learning to be more mindful before you speak can help prevent saying things that can’t be taken back and the consequent feelings of regret and guilt.

2      Picture yourself when you are angry

Step into your colleagues’ shoes and imagine what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your rage. You could be perceived as bullying or intimidating. Furthermore, if you have been out of line in full anger mode, you might later feel humiliated and shameful about your unreasonable behaviour. Think twice before you get angry the next time.

3    Get active

We all know the benefits physical activity has on our all-round health. The endorphins released from our bodies can help to boost self-esteem and improve mood, so put on your trainers and take your heart rate up a notch for all the right reasons – it will do wonders for your emotional wellbeing and feelings of anger.

4    Take some time out

Anger can sometimes leave you feeling suffocated and trapped. Remove yourself from the situation and have some space to bring clarity to your thoughts. Practise positive thinking outside of work and be around people who can make you laugh or do things that you really enjoy the most to help alleviate tension. Unresolved problems can always be revisited when both parties have had time to cool off.

5      Recognise triggers

Take some time to think about situations or the actions of others that really rile you. By recognising your triggers you can think before you act and prevent your temper from running away with you.

6      Don’t jump the gun

Before you pass judgement, stop and listen to what your colleague has to say before you react. As hard as this task might be for you, be respectful of their opinion and give them the benefit of the doubt.

7      Are you behaving appropriately?

Lashing out and letting your emotions run away with you in the heat of the moment is inappropriate workplace behaviour. It is worth considering the ramifications that your outburst can have on your own reputation as well as your career.

8      Focus on solving the problem

Take a problem-solving approach to the cause of the problem and work with your colleagues to find a resolution. You will benefit more from working together as a team, not against each other.

9      Let down your guard

If someone is behaving badly and you don’t think you can get through to them without raising your voice and showing your anger, try something different. Let your guard down and tell the relevant colleagues openly and professionally how they make you feel or how what they are doing is impacting the project.

10   Good communication

It can be frustrating when you feel like your assignments have not been met in the way you had hoped, but were your instructions clear in the first place? Take a look at yourself and how you communicate because effective communication enables colleagues to be in sync with each other as well as boosting company morale.

11   Are your expectations reasonable?

There is no use setting unachievable goals that cannot be met, this is not conducive to your business, nor to you or your colleagues’ self-esteem. Negotiate realistic aims to avoid the annoyance or upset of expected failure.

12   When it all becomes too much to bear

If you are feeling like there is no way out, seeking professional help can assist you in unravelling the core of your anger issues and provide tips, techniques and advice for you to follow. As the saying goes: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Dr Lynda Shaw is a change specialist, regular professional speaker, chartered psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist and author. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and Fellow and ... (Read More)

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