Whether it is the stress of meeting a deadline or finishing a big project, work can often drive employees to their breaking points.
However, workers must be able to keep their heads no matter how stressful a situation may be. To help, Joseph Shrand, an instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical Schooland author of "Outsmarting Anger: 7 Strategies for Defusing our Most Dangerous Emotion" (Jossey-Bass 2013), has several tips on how workers can avoid losing their tempers in any given situation.
- Recognize Rage — Become aware of your own personal anger scale. There are many gradations of anger, from mild irritation and annoyance to going postal! You can do this for a co-worker, a boss, an employee or anyone. When you recognize that they are angry, ask what do they want to change and see different?
- Envision Envy— Are you angry because you think your co-worker has a better deal than you do? That they have a better relationship with the boss? That they get more support? Do you envy someone else’s job, or the hours they work compared to yours? If envy is part of why you are angry, take a quick inventory of those things that may actually make someone else envious of your position at work. Chances are that other people see you at an advantage over them.
- Sense Suspicion —If someone is envious of you, you may become suspicious that they are trying to take what you have: your job, your relationship with your boss, your office! And if they think you are envious of their position, they may become equally suspicious of you. Anger is an emotion designed to change the behavior of someone else, but if you are doing it, everyone is doing it. Take that suspicion inventory, but then begin to recognize how you and your team can work together instead of at odds.
- Project Peace — This is the beginning of working together. Rather than be envious or suspicious, you can model what it is you want from other people by doing it yourself. Make good eye contact, stop, look, and listen to what they have to say, and remind them of their value to the company. To do this you have to follow the next two tips.
- Engage Empathy– In our heart of hearts a human being wants to feel valued by another human being. Anger gets in the way of this ability to both feel and make another person feel valuable. By showing you are interested in why another person is angry you send a message that they are valuable, and that they need not be envious or suspicious of your role in the workplace. And to do this you have to follow the next tip.
- Communicate Clearly —How do you know why a person is angry, and what do they want to see different? Ask them. Continuing the stop, look, and listen idea when you really give a person the gift of your time and interest, you are letting them know of their value, and then can both use peaceful, calm, frontal lobe brains to talk things through.
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