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Anger management at work

T.Jyoti Nath
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In the fiercely competitive world that we live today, the most widely accepted truth is the growing stress and tension in our lives. People going through anxious moments are a common sight whether at home or in the street.

The cause of worry could be anything from a missed bus or broken down car on the road to a power cut at home that shuts off your favourite prime time show on the TV. Workplace cannot be an exception to this phenomenon.

Being a meeting place of so many tensed up souls with a variety of mindsets and beliefs, some of whom compete with one another for better performance, recognition and benefits, no wonder workplace is a breeding ground for tension. It doesn’t take much time for tension to escalate into frustration, stress and angry outbursts.

Organisations have to pay a price in terms of reduced productivity and high legal and medical costs when angry employees go on the rampage and end up on the wrong side of the law or on a hospital bed.

It’s quite possible that verbal and physical abuse by angry employees could land them and also their organisation in court cases. It’s equally true and proven that angry people suffer risk of high blood pressure and are more prone to heart ailments.

When conflict escalates at workplace, managers have a major role to play in pre-empting its violent and damaging consequences. While work pressure could be a major contributing factor to anger issues, it is likely that the rage at office has its roots at home.

It is for the managers to pick up the clues given by employees through their words and deeds as to the cause of their fury and come up with ways to tackle the situation.

Even then if violence happens, it reflects poorly on the abilities of managers, who, despite being in a position to read anger signs early and take suitable remedial measures, have failed to do so.

Strategies for managers

Managers may employ mild or strong strategies, as the situation demands, to deal with workplace anger issues. They may seek emotional help from a psychologist or psychiatrist for the affected employees. At the same time, they may try to control the anger of an employee by expressing their own feelings about the situation along with the reasons that led them to such a conclusion so that he or she may see reason. Strong strategies, that go deeper into the issue, call for decisive steps. They are the real managerial methods that impose strict conditions on every employee to complete a task. It could be asking an employee to set a timeframe for his assignments to be completed to let others have clarity on their portion of the task so that conflicts could be avoided. Inherent to this strategy is a strict warning followed by action for non-compliance. Tips for workplace anger management:

Keep your eyes and ears open for symptoms of anger – abnormal quietness, avoiding eye-to-eye contact and bowed head are some of them.

Be aware of negative impact of angry outbursts on other employees

Say sorry to those targeted by the outbursts to boost their morale and mend ties

If angry staff prefer to open up, let them do the talking while you listen

A survey on the impact of anger at workplace says 85 percent of employees from a sample reported encountering conflict at office while 22 percent believed it led to illness. Ten percent of those surveyed went a step ahead and blamed it for total project failure.

It is for managers to decide how much they think their organisations are hit by this menace and how prepared they need to be to tackle it.

T.Jyoti Nath

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