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7 Top Tips For Dealing With Anger In The Workplace By Ruth Cornish

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The 20thth annual Anger Awareness Week is run by The British Association of Anger Management and this year puts the spotlight on passive aggressive anger sufferers helping them identify anger problems and highlight treatments.

As Anger Awareness Week draws to a close, we need to remind ourselves that we all have days where we feel frustrated and agitated, and certainly our work lives are no different. But how do we ensure that we carefully manage our emotions (and indeed those of others) to avoid bringing conflict into the workplace?

Keeping our cool – especially during times of great unrest, such as we are experiencing now during the COVID-19 pandemic – will never be easy, but it is possible by following a few simple processes. Read on for 7 top tips that will help you deal with anger in the workplace and ensure a more engaged team and most importantly, a happier you with co-founder and director of HRi, Ruth Cornish.

Maintain self-control

It is extremely important to maintain your self-control at all times and not let emotion get the better of you. The other party may well use vulgar or unpleasant language or indeed threatening gestures, but do not rise to it. It may help you to think about it this way – if you get angry – who won the conflict? Your negative response may help them achieve what they set out to do, which causes you to feel upset. Keep your cool and you’ll come away feeling much better.

Signal non-aggression

It is important to catch the person’s attention and give signals. This will calm and de-escalate the situation. The most important thing to signal here is non-aggression. Remember that the other person may be in a very emotional state, and therefore their ability to think rationally will be diminished. As such, the actual words you use are less important than the tone and body language you display.

Match energy levels

It is important to match the energy level of the other person. If you are slow to respond, or respond too calmly, it can give the impression that you do not care or are not really interested in the matter. However, matching their energy does not mean that you have to be aggressive towards that person, it simply means that you have to quickly engage with them and demonstrate through your body language and tone that you care and are interested in what they have to say .

Show empathy and listen actively

Empathy is about being able to see the other person’s point of view – even if you don’t agree with it. To do this you will need to be an active listener. Don’t assume you already know what people are going to say and don’t try to answer them before you’ve fully heard them. The other person will respond to signs that you are listening and understand their problem. To do this you could use phrases like; “I can see that this made you angry” or “I can understand why this is frustrating for you“. Then the key is to reassure the person that you are really listening to what they are saying. You can do this by focusing your full attention on them, using non-verbal cues such as nodding, maintaining eye contact and letting them finish what they have to say without interrupting. Finally, play back what you heard them say. This will show that you understood. You can say things like; “Okay, let me see if I understood you correctly” – then paraphrase what they said.

Building a relationship

If you want to resolve the situation, you need to build a relationship with them. This can be achieved with the same techniques already applied to de-escalating the situation, including active listening, active looking (not being distracted), paraphrasing their words back to them and being friendly.

Earn their trust

Gaining trust will be key to getting the other person to the point where they are calm enough to be able to handle the situation in a rational way. If the other person has the confidence that you are on their side and that you actually have the power to be able to (and want to) resolve the situation, then they will feel more at ease. This will eventually mean that they will see the benefit of working with you.

Collaborative problem solving

To successfully resolve a situation, you will need to address the problem in a rational and factual manner. Break things down into small parts and follow a step-by-step process together to ensure that every fact is uncovered and you only base the discussion on actual factual evidence. If you both follow a few simple processes and – instead of focusing on blame – you embrace robust problem solving, you can actually get rid of problems early, long before they become something bigger.

So next time you feel anger and frustration getting the better of you, walk away, take a moment to think (and breathe) and consider starting some of the tips above. Not only will you be able to negate any conflicts before they really start, but you will also feel much happier within yourself.

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