“One of my coworkers is so annoying! She’s always making personal calls when she’s supposed to be working. Then when she can’t finish her work she asks me for help!”
Recently, one of my clients (a mechanic) complained about missing tools. “We are all responsible for our own tools. I keep mine on my workbench and don’t mind sharing them. But I expect that the other guys ask me before just taking what they want. Half of the time, they don’t return them and then when I need them I have to go look for them. Next guy who helps himself to my wrenches is going to see firsthand how much damage they can do when I smack him upside the head with one!”
Whether you work in a multibillion dollar corporation or a small mom and pop shop, anger is a normal part of any work environment. We each have certain standards of excellence and expectations and become angry when others don’t share our values. We compare our work ethics with those of other employees; we measure how much we accomplish in an eight-hour day as compared to those who do less; we judge and label those who we do not like or who pose a professional threat to us; our diverse backgrounds and personalities are oftentimes intimidating, causing friction between us.
“I see people slacking off, helping themselves to company supplies, flirting with married coworkers, and gossiping behind each others backs. I’ve kept my mouth shut for a long time but one of these day’s I’m going to blow up.”
How does one handle anger in the workplace? An inappropriate expression or outburst can cause serious harm and may even lead to dismissal. But it’s never healthy to suppress anger either. Dr. Bernie Siegel, in The Secret Side of Anger, states that when “You internalize anger it destroys you.” Therefore, it’s critical that we learn to express our anger in an appropriate and respectful manner. Here’s an example of how to speak with someone you are upset with:
1. Make a simple statement: “When you (describe the behavior or incident) I feel (state emotion).”
2. Share your concern: “I’m concerned that (give an example) could happen.”
3. Finally, state the desired results: “In situations like this I prefer that you (describe how you would like the behavior to change).”
For example: “When you speak badly about another worker behind their back I feel angry and sad for them. I’m concerned that you will tarnish your reputation as an honest and trustworthy person and that they may suffer some unfortunate consequences. I really need you to address your concerns directly with the individual and when in public only speak positively about them. Can I count on your cooperation?”
Let’s take a look at each above situation and see how each can be addressed:
In scenario number one: Your coworker’s job performance is none of your business unless it directly impacts your ability to do your job effectively. In that case, it’s imperative to speak to her to learn more about her situation and reach some sort of workable solution. If you are not dependent on her to complete your own tasks, set boundaries. Let her know that you can only handle your work in the course of the day. However, if she needs some help organizing her time perhaps you could assist her.
Scenario number two: My client had addressed the issue with his coworkers several times without resolution. I suggested a simple solution: that he put a lock on his tool chest to keep his tools safe. When others disregard your requests, be prepared to enforce consequences.
In the final example: Not all business is our business to get involved in. One must know when to MYOB. However, if someone is putting the company at risk or potentially causing harm to a coworker it is perfectly acceptable to address the issue. Address the matter only with the individual or parties who must know and are able to take care of it. I.E., a manager needs to know if an employee is taking company supplies as that cuts into their profit margin plus the employee is committing a crime. Someone who is spreading unkind rumors about another may need to be spoken to in order to protect the integrity of the individual and the company. If the issue is important, take action. If not, let it go and be at peace with it.
Remember: anger is a self-created emotion and results from the thoughts we choose to form about a particular individual or situation. Simply amending our internal dialogue (what we say to ourselves) changes how we feel. But should you feel anger arise, take a deep breath, think about the seriousness (or lack of) what is occurring, carefully (very carefully!) and thoughtfully craft your words, and respectfully and confidently express them to the appropriate individual. This may be just enough to facilitate positive changes. If not, let it go, focus on yourself, and move on.
To order a copy of The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth visit http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html
Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://www.iheart.com/talk/show/53-Anger-911-Radio/
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