6 Steps to Dealing With Anger in a High-Pressure Workplace

Date posted: December 3, 2012

By Jude Bijou

Whether it’s fast-paced work, difficult work, too much work or a stressful office populated by difficult personalities, many of us have times when we feel frustrated, resentful and angry at work. But as a business owner, you can’t give in to these feelings without infecting your employees.

What do you do when you’re so angry that you have the urge to break something, yell at someone, or worst of all, strike out? Here are 6 strategies that will help.

1.   Recognize that anger is a physical state. Realize that frustration means anger, and anger is just a pure physical sensation. You can literally work anger out of your body like a masseuse works a kink out of your muscles. You need to move that energy out, physically and constructively in a safe place. Do it where nothing of value is harmed–including yourself–and no one is around to inhibit you.

2.   Feel how the anger affects your body. Look for anger’s physical clues: ears getting hot, face flushing, chest pounding, rage moving up your spine, sudden sweating, muscles tensing, and feeling as if you’re about explode. This is good! Once you can identify the feeling as physical, it’s not difficult to move the energy up and out of your body.

3.   Get yourself to the nearest private bathroom. When you’re ready to lose it, instead of biting someones head off or throwing verbal darts at a client and losing the account, excuse yourself to a private bathroom and lock the door. To release anger from your body, push against a wall as hard as you can. Or grab the bathroom stall door and shake it on its hinges as if you were going to break it off the foundation. Or jump up and down, stomping your feet and shaking your fists.

4.   Let the tears flow. It’s not uncommon, when people release anger from their bodies this way, for people to feel the urge to cry. If you feel like crying, allow the tears to flow. According to Minnesota research scientist William Frey, crying can help to wash chemicals that trigger the stress hormone cortisol out of our body–one of the reasons we feel much better after a good cry.

5.   Purge the rest of your anger at home. When you get home, pound a mattress with your fists, hit a tree with a rolled up newspaper, scream into a pillow, growl, or hit old telephone books with a flexible hose. After all this physical activity, your face will be relaxed and you’ll sleep very soundly. Watch how good you feel the next day when it’s time for work.

6.   Reprogram your thought patterns. A side effect of workplace anger is blame, on the one hand, and feeling victimized on the other. Interrupt destructive thinking about how people and things “should” be and accept what is. You can change your thought patterns the same way you memorized times tables as a kid–through repetition. Repeat out loud: “People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.” Say it and think it hundreds of times, until it’s absolutely automatic. It’s a powerful phrase to use before work, throughout the day, or just in general.

The results? Expressing the emotional energy and focusing on acceptance dissipates anger and restores balance. You’ll feel more centered and loving. Your thinking will be clearer. And you’ll be able to calmly accept what is, or be able to say or do what you need to in order to resolve the situation.

Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a respected psychotherapist, professional educator and workshop leader. Her theory of Attitude Reconstruction® evolved over the course of more than 30 years working with clients as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and is the subject of her award-winning book, Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. Learn more at http://www.attitudereconstruction.com./

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