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Avoiding Anger Trap

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Note 1: Paranoid incompetent micromanagers, who successfully combine tight control of minute details/procedures used in performing assignments with compete incompetence are often called "control freaks". They can intentionally provoke you to lose temper. This trap is called "anger trap". Such a loss of self-control can cost you dearly.

Note 2: Good advice about the topic is difficult to come by and depends on your concrete situation: take any recommendations with a grain of salt.

If you report of psychopathic or authoritarian manager you need to deal with anger in two situations:

Those two situation represent what is called anger trap. That means that you need to navigateanger trap. In case of performance reviews the first thing is to learn "tricks of trade" used and to separate out the good constructive feedback from the unrealistic criticism.

As for feeling angry as a result of bad performance review or similar situation thing about it as, first and foremost, a provocation. There is no need to match this jerk in intensity of anger. Please remember that society survive only if its members have a commitment to traits like kindness, patience, and forgiveness. That assumption is the cornerstone Christian civilization as well as all other major civilizations. We need distinguish assertive behavior and destructive behavior.

Here is some helpful information from Workplace Anger Encyclopedia of Small Business

Factors that cause workplace anger, on the other hand, can sometimes be addressed directly. While workplace anger sometimes can be traced back to prejudices that are at the root of deep-seated hostility, on many other occasions, work-oriented factors serve as the primary catalysts. Common causes of workplace anger include:

Of course, sometimes a distinction must be made between legitimate and illegitimate catalysts of workplace anger. For example, an employee may express great anger over a negative performance review even though the appraisal was conducted fairly and honestly. Small business owners and managers cannot jettison basic principles of management simply to avoid making one of their employees angry.

WARNING SIGNS Workplace anger is often sublimated by employees until they reach a point where they suddenly burst. This "bursting" point may manifest itself in a variety of ways. One employee may just yell at his manager, while another may impetuously decide to quit. Still others may resort to workplace violence or vandalism. Small business owners and managers should acquaint themselves with the warning signs of hidden anger so that they can address the causes for that anger and hopefully head off an incident before it occurs. Other employees, meanwhile, may exhibit behavior that is more obviously troubling. Following are a range of behaviors that may signal a need for intervention:

"BULLYING" Explicit workplace violence, sexual harassment, and episodes of discrimination garner the most headlines and receive the bulk of attention from consultants because of their potential legal impact on business enterprises. But researchers contend that simple bullying behavior may be a greater threat to business health and productivity than any of the above-mentioned problems. Sometimes bullying takes place between employees, but it often is most evident in supervisor-worker relationships, in which one person is perceived to wield greater power. "Bullying is not just the problem of an individual, however, but, where it exists, of the organization and its culture as a whole," stated Andrea Adams in Personnel Management. "Whether it is a bully's persistent intimidation or their devious efforts to make a colleague appear professionally incompetent, these menacing tactics can be difficult to identify." She also notes that organization bullying is often disguised by euphemisms that avoid calling the behavior what it really is. "In America employee abuse, as it is called, is also referred to as 'workplace trauma,' " wrote Adams. "It has been identified in research carried out by one psychologist in the USA as a more crippling and devastating problem for both staff and employers than all the other work-related stresses put together. There are always those who will put forward the argument that the making of snide remarks or jokes at other people's expense is 'a part of human nature,' but office banter which is not really designed to offend is undoubtedly different to the persistent downgrading of people by any individual in a position of power."

Adams noted that confronting bullies about their behavior is often difficult: "Where bullying exists and someone is willing to tackle it, the bully will have to be addressed in some way and prevailed on to change. The way in which they see themselves will rarely tally with the view of those who are placed under attack." Small business owners and managers, however, should stand fast. Bullying behavior generally does not take place in a vacuum; other employees are usually aware of the situation, and they should be consulted. Finally, owners seeking to eliminate bullying behavior need to make it clear that anyone who is the victim of bullying tactics will receive their full support.

PEER CONFLICT Another common cause of workplace anger and hostility is peer conflict. Unlike instances of bullying, wherein one employee makes a conscious decision to engage in behavior that is hurtful or uncomfortable for another employee, peer conflict is characterized by mutual feelings of animosity toward the other individual. "Peer conflicts are typically caused by personality or perception differences, moodiness, impatience, or sensitive emotional states such as jealousy, annoyance, and embarrassment," wrote Levesque. "When these rivalries evolve into skirmishes or outbursts, the conflict erupts and people are damaged. Since work relies heavily on the ability of people to interact in a cooperative and harmonious fashion, conflict between employees represents a serious breakdown of those two vital ingredients to effective work relationships."

According to management theorist Peter Drucker, managers can pursue one of the following routes when attempting to resolve peer conflicts:

  1. Convince both workers to accept a mutually agreeable view or agreement about the issue that was the cause of the conflict.
  2. Support the position of one employee and reject the position of the other.
  3. Make your own decision about the issue and force both people to comply with your perception.

"What is important for the manager to keep in perspective," wrote Levesque, "is that the problem belongs to those in conflict and only they can resolve it, but they will need someone to help—you."

Small business owners who find themselves mediating a peer conflict should avoid taking sides (especially if both workers' views have merit), provide an objective viewpoint, keep the discussion from bogging down in tangents or name-calling, and help each worker to understand the perspective of the other. Finally, the small business owner's overriding concern should be to explicitly restate his or her expectations of staff performance, including the ways in which staff members should behave toward one another.

KEYS TO STOPPING OR PREVENTING EXPRESSIONS OF WORKPLACE HOSTILITY AND ANGER

Attempts to address inappropriate workplace behavior through negotiation and mediation are not always effective. In some instances, an employee's conduct and/or performance will leave the small business owner with no alternative but to resort to disciplinary action. This discipline can take a variety of forms, from suspension to negative comments in the employee's personnel file to yanking the worker off a plum project. Reports on the effectiveness of such steps vary considerably. Some firms contend that such measures inform the employee that his or her problematic behavior will not be tolerated and can be an effective tool in triggering behavioral reforms, especially if the punishment has a financial dimension. But others insist that such measures—especially if used without first pursuing other options—may only deepen feelings of animosity and hostility.

No two small business enterprises or employees are alike. Researchers agree, however, that there a number of steps that employers can take to address the issues of workplace anger and hostility before they erupt into full-blown crises.

  1. Explicitly state your absolute opposition to inappropriate behavior in writing. This can often be included as part of a new hire's employee guidelines package, but small business owners should also consider displaying such "zero tolerance" statements in public areas. Such statements should also clearly delineate which types of comments and actions are regarded as offensive.
  2. Encourage an environment that values diversity. "There must be vision and commitment to the ideal of valuing diversity demonstrated by an underlying respect toward everyone in the organization," wrote Charlene Marmer Solomon in Personnel Journal.
  3. Recognize that incidents of workplace hostility tend to get worse over time if they are not addressed. For example, remarks that might at first seem to be merely in mildly bad taste can eventually escalate into fullfledged racist, sexist, or otherwise mean-spirited harassment. "Learning to deal with [workplace anger] issues is critical to creating a workplace that is comfortable—and therefore productive—for employees," wrote McGarvey." An all-too-common reaction, and one that often creates bigger problems down the road, is shrugging off such incidents." Instead, business owners should respond to incidents of workplace anger or hostility promptly and decisively. The whole workforce will likely be watching, looking for some signal about whether management takes such transgressions seriously, or whether it implicitly gives the green light to further incidents.
  4. Learn to recognize the symptoms of workplace anger, and try to provide employees with constructive avenues to express frustrations and/or concerns.
  5. Monitor workplace culture to ensure that it does not provide fertile ground for unwanted behavior.
  6. Make sure you have all the facts before confronting an employee with a charge of workplace discrimination or otherwise unprofessional behavior. This is especially true if the identity of the transgressor is in any doubt.
  7. Make sure that your own actions and deeds are a good model for your employees.
  8. Recognize that your primary imperative is not to change an employee's mindset about minorities, women, or other co-workers, but rather to ensure that the employee does not engage in offensive behavior in his or her interactions with co-workers or customers. "We won't change what a person says at a bar, after work, but we can impact how he carries out his job in the workplace," one consultant told Entrepreneur. "We won't change attitudes, but we can manage behaviors—and that's your responsibility as an employer."

... ... ...

FURTHER READING: SEE ALSO: Workplace Violence

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[Apr 19, 2016]How to Cope When You're Feeling Angry

Health.com

Irritability and depression

Anger happens, it's just part of life. But if you have depression you can add anger to the list (along with sadness, fearfulness, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite) of common depression symptoms.

"If you find you're very short-tempered, irritable, grouchy, your fuse is short, it could be related to depression," says Carol A. Bernstein, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City.

Depression treatment may lessen anger. But there are things you can do to blunt the effects of this intense and sometimes dangerous feeling.

Do count to 10 (or 100)

Thomas Jefferson famously said, "When angry, count 10, before you speak; if very angry, 100."

"Angry people are highly aroused and when people get aroused, they do and say things they later regret," says Brad Bushman, PhD, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Counting (slowly) to whatever number seems appropriate gives your blood pressure and heart rate a chance to return to normal. "As time passes, arousal diminishes," says Bushman.

Do forgive

Even if you don't ultimately forget the incident, forgiving a person who has provoked you is an excellent way to subdue anger, says Bushman. Forgiveness can help you stop ruminating, which is when negative thoughts play over and over in your head like some horrible movie scene.

"Angry people can't stop thinking about what made them angry. It's that rumination that seems to be destructive," he adds. "This doesn't mean that you conclude that what another person did to you is okay. It just means that you're not going to hold that against them and you're not going to let it consume your life."

Do distract yourself

Another way to dial it down is with distraction. Katherine Kueny, PhD, director of behavioral medicine in the department of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, tells people to place themselves on an emotional scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being the most angry.

"When the scale is at 5-to-10, I tell people to do something that will bring the emotions down before you interact or try to problem solve," she says.

This could be drawing, cooking, taking a walk or finishing a Sudoku puzzle or crossword puzzle.

Do take a deep breath

Taking deep breaths is one good way to calm yourself when you're in the throes of anger. "Slow breaths will slow the heart rate down," says Kueny.

The American Psychological Association recommends taking deep breaths from the diaphragm, not shallow ones from the chest. But listening to calming music and muscle relaxation exercises may also help, says Bushman.

Some people have found help in yoga, which also emphasizes breathing.

Next: Don't deny that you're angry

People who are able to see their anger as anger are less likely to resort to aggression or violence, according to a study published in 2011 in the journal Emotion. "People who are better at categorizing their emotions into specific categories are more in tune with their emotions," says Ricky Pond, lead author of the study and a PhD student at the University of Kentucky.

"They think more deeply about their emotional experiences and are more sensitive to the causes and potential consequences of their emotions. Thus, when angry, they are quicker to cope effectively with negative emotions and distract themselves less with inefficient coping strategies, such as venting, binge drinking, substance abuse."

Do write about it

"Writing or journaling allows you to slow down and think through how you want to respond so you're responding rather than reacting," says Kueny.

What's the difference? "Reacting is based on emotions. It's almost automatic. Our emotions feel very real but they're not always rationale," she says. "When we respond we're choosing how to respond. We're cognitively thinking through what we want to have happen and what is the best way to make that happen."

Don’t stomp or storm

Instead of storming into a room and screaming that your partner isn't paying enough attention to you, write about it or employ some other anger-dissipating trick. After you're feeling calmer, walk into the room and say you've missed him or her and suggest an activity you can do together.

"A rationale response is more likely to get the desired outcome," says Kueny.

Do exercise

Aerobic exercise, including brisk walking or jogging, can be a great way to handle anger.

"You experience the same physiological sensations as when you're angry—adrenaline pumping, sweating, breathing heavily—but at least you have an outlet for it and it's a way of labeling those bodily sensations in a way that's not tied to anger,” says Pauline Wallin, PhD, a psychologist in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania and author of How To Tame Your Inner Brat.

"You have en explanation: I'm all pumped up because I'm running." Exercise also releases endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that help us soothe ourselves and manage our emotions, adds Kueny.

Do practice compassion

Doing something compassionate for someone else is incompatible with anger and aggression.

"It's hard to feel angry and compassionate at the same time," Bushman says. So it's OK to do something nice for someone who's making you mad. Research indicates that compassion may also dissipate the other person's anger.

A recent study found that responding supportively to a colleague's anger by talking to him or her rather than writing them up or putting them on probation was more likely to resolve a tense situation.

Don’t send email when you’re angry

Never, ever send an email when you are really upset, says Dr. Bernstein.

If you're really burning to say something, write it out and put it in your draft box for 24 hours before deciding to send it.

This gives you time to devise a sane and rational response to the situation. And don't be afraid to tell the person who has aggrieved you that you need a day or two to think about the issue.

Do try to be grateful

A body of research is emerging to show that the simple act of being grateful can make us happy and happy, of course, is about as far as you can get from angry.

You don't necessarily have to be grateful to the person who wronged you, but you could be grateful for other things in your life, big and small.

An ongoing practice of gratitude, say researchers at the University of California, Davis, can even improve your health.

Do talk, but not right away

Gauge how intense your anger is on a scale of 1-to-10 before making a decision to open your mouth about it. If you talk when you're still red hot, you're more likely to get into an argument.

"You really should not communicate when you are very angry," says Kueny. "You should wait to cool off."

When you think your anger is manageable and you can effectively express it without being destructive and causing other problems, this is the time to open up the discussion, she says.

Do consider prayer

It's not for everyone, but a set of three experiments found that people who prayed for another person, be it a stranger, someone who had angered them, or a friend in need, had less anger.

This was true regardless of the person's religion or how observant they were. To some degree, prayer seems to distract from angry thoughts. "We have some evidence that when people pray they tend to give others the benefit of the doubt," says Bushman, which may dispel negative feelings.

If prayer is not your thing, spend a few minutes thinking about the target of your anger and see if you can give them the benefit of the doubt.

[Apr 10, 2011] The Roots of Authoritarian Aggression

March 1, 2011 | Sense and Goodness

Aggression occurs after two switches are turned. First, some bad feeling, like anger or envy, stirs up hostility. But, that by itself won’t lead to aggression. An angry individual who wants to attack someone may anticipate getting punished. Or, s/he may have moral restraints. So, s/he has to somehow overcome these restraints or set aside these inhibitions, and let the aggression erupt and flow.

Now, fear can increase submission as well as aggression. If people imagine that their country is undergoing an internal crisis, then RWA scale scores usually soar. Most people seem to become more right-wing authoritarian during crises. The only situation in which a crisis lowered RWA scores was a repressive government that assaulted nonviolent protestors (“the Gandhi trap”). Otherwise, when there’s trouble, people generally look to the authorities to fix things, and some authorities will gladly amass greater power in times of peril, whether they have any intention of fixing the problem or not.

[Apr 5, 2011] Anger

Life presents us with stress, threats (real and imagined), disappointments, and resulting frustration. How we cope with these ever-present elements helps define our personality and how we are perceived by our family, peers, and acquaintances. Controlling our anger is critical. There are two issues. One revolves around controlling your own angry reaction to disappointment, and the other deals with how you react to those subjecting you to their angry reactions to a real or imagined grievance.

Anger can be an extremely negative reaction. Uncontrolled anger can trigger a large number of anti-social behaviors and other negative consequences including violence, crime, spouse and child abuse, divorce, troubled relationships, fouled working conditions, headaches, hypertension, ulcers, heart conditions, emotional problems, etc. Think carefully, how many times has an angry and uncontrolled outburst solved a problem. How many times has an uncontrolled and angry reaction aggravated an already negative situation. Can you recall how you felt when you reacted in anger vs.a cool and reasoned approach?

If people could act out their angry fantasies with immunity, the incidence of violence would be even greater. A study in the early 80's asked if an individual could eliminate another person by merely pressing a button, and suffer no negative consequence, would they do it? 69% of all males, and 56% of women responded in the positive. What this says about violent fantasies, morality, and the need for laws and punishments is prodigious.

Societies are essentially collective psyches, and mirror, in many respects, the individual capacity for anger and resulting violent reactions. Hitler's Germany, and the Reign of Terror in Stalin's purge of the 30's, show the capacity of man to hate, discriminate, brutalize, maim, and murder. Understanding and restraining anger, on an individual and collective basis, is critical to determining individual welfare.

What Is Anger?

Anger is feeling mad in response to frustration or injury and expressing yourself in an impulsive manner without thought. You do not like the circumstances and usually you would like to get revenge. Anger is a mixture of emotional, physiological, and cognitive elements. It should be seen as distinct from the behavior it might provoke. In some instances, angry emotions are beneficial in that we take an appropriate and measured response to a real, not imagined threat.

Anger can be caused by damagedpride, unrealized expectations, or repeated hostile fantasies. The goal of anger is to accomplish a purpose or to blame others for our own shortcomings (externalizing blame). Anger can be used to justify oppressing others, to elevate our low self-worth, to hide other feelings, and to displace other emotions such as using aggression to hide fear.

Beyond the cognitive and emotional state is actual aggression, orattacking someone or a group. It's intent is to harm. These attacks can be verbal - threats, insults, sarcasm, or questioning motives-or it can be physical. Fantasies of aggression often precede actual acts. Hostility is a permanent of anger and antipathy toward people. Rage is when anger, which is episodic, explodes into completely irrational behavior, as in road rage. Frustration can be more legitimate and productive. We are disappointed in ourselves or others, and wish for a different outcome. Frustration may result in positive change or, if it does not result in positive change, it could morph into anger, hostility or rage.

Assertiveness is different than aggression, and suggests proactive dealing with facts and circumstances in a rational fashion. However, aggression can be cold and calculating.

Aggression has been classified as either instrumental aggression (to get some reward, not to get revenge), hostile aggression (to hurt someone or get revenge), and annoyance aggression (to stop an irritant). When our aggression results in a complete loss of control and rationality, it becomes rage.

Types of Anger

Behavioral anger consists of assaultive, aggressive, hurtful or rebellious behavior.

Anger in many cases is not overtly and obviously expressed. It is suppressed. As such, it has been named passive-aggressiveness. Such person engaging in passive aggressiveness may be unresponsive, argumentative, overly nice, play dumb, arrive late, exaggerate the faults of others, and engage in nasty gossip that is hurtful.

Another form of passive-aggressive is perpetual victimhood. Afraid to confront the supposed source of anger, the person feels victimized and feels persecuted. They feel there is nothing they can do to change the situation and accept no accountability.

Dealing with Anger

Venting or catharsis is a long standing approach. This involves unearthing the emotional traumas and venting the feelings until we can assess the trauma and drain the stored anger.However, there is considerable debate over catharsis and the nature of venting. If venting works to express the conscious and unconscious emotions for the purpose of feeling better and gaining insight, it might mitigate an unwanted and unproductive emotion.

Half of our anger is directed at family. This indicates anger may have as much to do with love (or perceptions of unrequited love) than it does with hate.

Controlling Anger Through Behavior Modification

It is understood that suppressing anger may have as many negative consequences as expressing the anger.Here are some approaches that social scientists have found helpful.

ITworld.com - Defuse workplace anger

According to a Yale University study on workplace anger, the greatest catalyst for employee rage is a real or imagined slight by a supervisor or manager. Next is a perceived lack of productivity by coworkers, followed by tight deadlines and heavy workloads. The study warns that these factors help create "underground chronic anger," an emotion that isn't expressed overtly but nevertheless affects one-quarter of the working population. The ill effects of chronic anger are high job stress, working below potential, and lack of teamwork with peers.

"The individual suffers -- in terms of decrements in happiness, satisfaction and feelings of betrayal, and the organization suffers -- individuals feeling angry put in less overall effort and their stress is likely to have an unknown but potentially substantial impact on effectiveness and productivity," the report concludes.

If a company creates a positive environment -- where workers receive regular and honest appraisals about economic threats, for example -- the likelihood of destructive employee anger is reduced, Bowen says. Mishandled, job pressures will cause "the weakest link" to snap, he says.

How can you overcome the debilitating effects of workplace anger? The first step is an honest self-assessment, says McClure. She describes seven warning signs that your anger or that of an associate is about to spill over:

Unfortunately, these traits often go unnoticed in a work setting. "When an employee pounds on the desk or swears at somebody, managers often say, 'That's just how they are,' and don't do anything about it," McClure says. Other managers may believe erroneously that outward hostility is simply "creative tension" that can actually lead to better performance. "That's a great rationalization," she remarks. "Today, for all kinds of reasons -- legal risks to companies, demands of the customer, fewer employees to choose from -- we have to make a more attractive workplace," McClure believes.

The first thing to do to keep anger from sapping your productivity and derailing your career is to acknowledge your feelings. "Anger builds because we never said anything [about a problem] in the first place," McClure says. "Go to the person you had the problem with and use your conversational skills to settle the matter."

Employees also should encourage their companies to sponsor formal assistance programs designed to train people how to constructively deal with anger.

Finally, maintain balance in your life. Employees need a combination of love, work, and play to stay healthy, says Bowen. "Work is important, but so is taking time for relationships and play," he says.

With effort, stressed out workers can stay focused on productivity and not pugilism.

Anger Management - Anger Toolkit

Some people are more vulnerable to co-workers/boss mischief than others. They are more likely to take a co-worker's anger personally, (as if it were a true reflection on their worth and dignity as a person) and to overreact accordingly. Paradoxically, the more vulnerable you are, the more likely a co-worker or boss is to sense it and to make mischief with you in the first place. It follows, therefore, that one approach to reducing the amount of mischief you are experiencing on the job is to strengthen those areas of personal vulnerability that have been inviting it. This is how its done:

Phase One

1. The first step in coping with the negative behavior of a co-workers/boss is to identify it properly. To clearly see that, "this is mischief!" The person is doing something that does not need to be done. With a little practice, you will be able to spot mischief a block away and not take it personally.

2. Remember the definition of self-respect. "I'm a worthwhile human being in spite of my faults and imperfections. No one can take that away from me."

3. Catch yourself about to take a co-workers angry remarks seriously, as if it made sense in the real world!

4. Catch yourself about to "reason" him or her out of their anger mischief, as if reason had anything to do with it.

5. This shifting of our emotional gears from our old pattern to a new one, is call disengaging from the mischief. We are NOT ignoring it, or denying that it is going on. We know very well what is going on, only now we have a power we didn't have before the power to choose not to overreact.

6. Identify the underlying purpose of the anger and negative behavior. We do that by identifying the way it is making us feel right now. See understanding negative behavior for an example of this process

7. Armed with insight into the goals and purpose of the negative behavior of our co-worker/boss, we can deduce what kind of response they expect from us; the same kind we have always given them in the past, such as threats, demands, begging, cajoling..."brown nosing" ( these are all forms of our own mischief). They leave us feeling weak, powerless and ashamed in our own eyes. We can let them go, and respond in a self-respecting and appropriate way.


Phase Two

1. We are now free to make a NEW choice in our own behalf instead of overreacting to him/her as we have always done in the past, we can choose to do something unexpected!

Very often, the last thing they expect us to do in these unpleasant situations is to agree with them! We are not agreeing that they are correct in their facts, but merely that they FEEL the way they feel. For example, you can say, "I 'd feel the same way if I were you."

Validate their anger
"I don't blame you for being Angry." This validates him as a person in spite of his imperfections by treating him with respect .

Give them a choice
They can talk to you later when they have cooled off or write you a anger memo. Ask them "what remedy is it that you seek?" or words to that effect.

Agree with them
Agree that it would be nice if they get what they want from you. We didn't say we'd give it to them. When we validate their "preferences", we are validating them as a person in spite of their negative behavior towards us. What we are giving them is some relief from their painful, out of control anger.

When we choose to behave in this new way, we are standing our ground, but not in a hostile, threatening, morally superior way. We are equal members of the human race, and we are letting them know that they have lost their power to provoke us with their "anger mischief" and shenanigans.

It will help us to emotionally disengage from these provocations at work if we can shift our focus from our angry, mischief making co-workers/boss and focus attention on ourselves to make a change in the way we have historically handled these situations. We are so preoccupied with their nonsense, that we often forget that we are a person too. We are no more perfect than they are. We are not morally superior, but are only an imperfect human being as well. This very understanding serves as the basis for self and mutual respect which is the "key" to conflict resolution.

Anger - What It Is, What It Can Do, and How to Manage It

My husband's colleague received a critique of an article he had submitted for publication in a professional journal. The article received a conditional acceptance, meaning that revisions were required for final approval. The review angered the writer and he fired off an angry email to the editor. Obviously he had not given much thought to this action or the result of it -- the editor is requiring the article go through the review process again and the editor has refused to have the angry writer remain as the corresponding author. What causes a person to react in such a self-destructive way and how can we keep ourselves from doing so? First a look at anger and what it is.

What is Anger?

It is a reaction to a real or perceived threat. Our natural response to this emotion is rage. Physiologically, our heart rate speeds up. We may feel our cheeks become flushed and jaws clench. Some of us respond to the feeling of anger by slamming doors, confronting the person who we perceive to have caused our anger, or in this age of speedy computer technology, firing off an angry email. Those who easily fly off the handle are usually aware of this tendency and should take steps to react differently to adverse situations.

Why Control Your Anger?

At the least, anger can cause hurt feelings. It can also make us less productive at work by causing stress which in turn leads to illness and absenteeism. In severe situations, anger can spark physical violence. We increasingly hear of instances of employees "losing it." Workplace violence has been on the rise in recent years. It is important to diffuse your anger before it goes too far. This is especially true in the workplace, where losing your temper can result in termination. When anger turns violent, you may find yourself facing legal action.

It is no surprise that anger can get out of hand. Anger blinds us to all but the focus of that anger. Ever heard the expression "I was so mad, I couldn't see straight." We must learn to use the energy created by our anger in a positive way. Rather that letting it get the best of us, we can channel our anger to make our needs known. That means turning our anger into assertion, not aggression.

Managing Your Anger

When faced with a situation that angers us, it is important to be proactive in dealing with it. Rather than let the anger get the best of us, we must get the best of it. We must take steps to get our anger under control. If that isn't possible, we must be able to determine that and walk away if necessary.

Dealing With The Anger of Others

Anger begets anger, which leads to conflict. When faced with another's wrath, it is a good idea to know how to deal with it. We must keep it from going further. In the workplace we are sometimes faced with hostile customers. It is vital to remember that, although a customer's tirade may be directed at you, the object of his or her emotion is probably the organization which you represent.

If you are a manager, you may also be forced to deal with the anger of your subordinates. Again the object of anger may be your organization. You would be wise to determine its cause and defuse it before it turns violent.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I know of no more disagreeable situation than to be left feeling generally angry without anybody in particular to be angry at.
Frank Moore Colby

Persons with PTSD hold in a lot of anger. It is a free-floating anger with no real target and very subtle causes. It simmers below the surface and can jump out at inappropriate times, aimed at the wrong person for the wrong reasons (displaced anger).

Following a rape, the rape victim is filled with rage. The specific targets of this rage are quite obvious: the rapist, the system that puts the victim on trial, the doctors for their insensitivity, and the list can go on depending on the ordeal the rape victim endures. However, years later, this anger can still exist, simmering just below the surface. And though many argue that the cues to the anger have changed, that the original incident has softened in the mind of the sufferer, that this, that that—it's all "neither here nor there" because there is no logic, no reasoning in a mental disorder: with chronic PTSD, everyone and everything is the cause, and the nearest person or object can be the target.

Normal people get warm, then angry, then angrier, and progress to a state of rage if the stimulus to the anger is not abated. A PTSD sufferer can go from A to Z immediately, especially if s/he’s an ex-soldier. Soldiers are taught to react. They are not taught to think, deliberate, or discuss. They are taught to react, because during war, the distance between life and death is measured in milliseconds and centimeters. When anger strikes, it quickly turns to rage.

Anger Management classes are usually prescribed for PTSD patients, however, the patient might still never arrive at the cause of this anger, as the original cause has faded, leaving only the anger. Learning to deal with this anger is much more productive at this juncture than trying to discover its cause or causes. In a good Anger Management class, the PTSD sufferer can learn that one cannot control one’s initial feeling about something aggravating, however, s/he can control her/his reaction.

Being the target, displaced or not, of this anger is one of the major causes of "secondary PTSD," the disorder suffered by those close to the PTSD sufferer. Oftentimes families walk on eggshells to avoid doing anything to upset the PTSD sufferer. Children, wives, and lovers tend to withdraw and avoid any and all possible confrontation.

Ironically, simply talking about it; sitting down to have a family discussion and bringing their issues to light often relieves the tension PTSD has caused. Partners of PTSD patients must keep alert and note when the anger outbursts increase in intensity and the intervals between them shorten. This is a sure sign that there is something else occurring within the patient and a trip to the therapist is needed.

You can reduce workplace stress by creating and maintaining a good relationship with your supervisor. Here's how.

Do you work for a manager who meets all your expectations? Do you get along well and respect one another's abilities? If you answered yes to both of these questions, consider yourself lucky. If not, don't worry. It's normal to have differences of opinion and style with your manager. You can learn to accept these differences and work with them to limit your workplace stress.

Are your work styles compatible?

Managers have differing styles when it comes to supervising work. Some use a "hands-off" approach and prefer to coach or mentor rather than manage the details closely (micromanage).

The hands-off approach gives you freedom to do your work with minimal supervision. If you're comfortable with such expectations and have the skills to work independently, this approach works well. But the hands-off approach doesn't work for everyone or for every job. You may need more of your boss's input and close supervision to do your best. Whenever there is a mismatch between the amount of supervision you want and the amount you get, you'll feel stressed.

A solution may be found by talking to your supervisor to determine if he or she is open to adjusting the level of supervision you receive. Also, if your company offers a continuing education course in communicating across personality or management styles, consider signing up for it. You'll learn about yourself and how to work successfully with people who have different styles.

How to get along with your supervisor

No matter where you are on the corporate ladder, it's to your advantage to get along well with your supervisor. Many supervisors are easy to work with, but some aren't. Your relationship with your supervisor is probably the most important one you have at work. Why? Having a healthy relationship with your supervisor usually means you're more satisfied with the work you do and have less stress.

Your boss can be a key supporter in helping you achieve your long-term goals. He or she knows your company's goals and knows what the company looks for in future managers and leaders.

You usually can't change your boss's behavior, but you can nurture the quality of the relationship. Here are some tips to keep the relationship healthy.

Do you work with a micromanager?

A micromanager uses a "hands-on" approach to supervising your work. But he or she takes it to the extreme. If you've ever worked with a supervisor who peers over your shoulder while you work or insists you do your work only his or her way, you've experienced micromanagement and probably know how stressful it can be.

At heart, micromanagement is about trust — your supervisor's trust in your ability to get the job done. Here are tips for dealing with a micromanager:

When gaining control is beyond your control

Sometimes there just isn't much that can be done to change your work situation. If that's the case, try focusing on what you may be able to control:

Is it time for a change?

If you've tried some or all of these suggestions and believe that nothing you can do will improve the situation, it may be time to consider seeking employment elsewhere. A mismatch in work demands, personalities, management style and corporate culture are all valid reasons to consider making a change.

The High Costs of Anger in the Workplace, Health and Lifestyle, 1stholistic.com, Holistic Living

Leroy was a superstar in the Real Estate business, producing three times the monthly business of his nearest coworker. He was a driven, highly competitive young man who saw his manager as getting in the way of even higher production.

Tension turned to irritability. Yelling and shouting followed. On the day he was fired, he shoved his manager in front of alarmed coworkers who reported his behavior to HR. Anger management classes were required, along with a one month interim, before reinstatement would be considered.

As this case example illustrates, workplace anger is costly to the employee, the company, and coworkers. Studies show that up to 42% of employee time is spent engaging in or trying to resolve conflict. This results in wasted employee time, mistakes, stress, lower morale, hampered performance, and reduced profits and or service.

In fact, in 1993 the national Safe Workplace Institute released a study showing that workplace violence costs $4.2 billion each year, estimating over 111,000 violent incidents. Further, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 500,000 victims of violent crime in the workplace lose an estimated 1.8 million workdays each year.

Clearly, poorly handled anger, frustration and resentment sabotage business productivity. Was Leroy justified in his anger? What skills should he learn to prevent future episodes? What could management have done to better handle the situation?

Skill 1– Anger Management

Using anger management skills, Leroy can clearly learn to control his behavior and communicate needs in a socially acceptable manner without disruptions to work and morale. The issue here is not if he was justified in being angry; it is how to best deal with normal angry feelings. A key ingredient to managing anger is learning to change “self-talk”-- that internal dialog that creates or intensify angry feelings.

From a management perspective, proper anger management skills can enhance conflict resolution, promote personal growth in the employee, reduce employee stress and promote increased workplace harmony.

Skill 2– Stress management.

Leroy was clearly under a great deal of stress, much of which was self-imposed. Stress often triggers anger responses.

Learning to effective deal with stress can help prevent anger outbursts, as well as reducing employee “burnout” and hampered performance.

Managers should be alert to stressed employees and recommend help, before things get out of hand. In many companies, HR or EAP (employee assistance professionals) can provide you with resources and referrals.

Skill 3– Emotional Intelligence.

Popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman, much research shows that increasing “EQ” is correlated with emotional control and increased workplace effectiveness.

What is “EQ” exactly? According to Goleman, it is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Fortunately, skills to improve your emotional intelligence can be learned by both employees and management. The benefit is increased understanding of yourself and others which directly relates to increased productivity and workplace harmony.

Skill 4– Assertive Communication.

Communication problems frequently lead to misunderstandings, conflicts with coworkers and hurt feelings which may hamper concentration and work performance.

Assertiveness is not aggression, but a way to communicate so that others clearly understand your needs, concerns, and feelings. It starts with the familiar advice to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements which can sound accusatory, and may lead to defensiveness instead of cooperation.

Other communication improvements include acknowledging the concerns and feelings of others in your interaction with them. And, being more sensitive to what others are saying to you “beneath the surface.”

Skill 5– Forgiveness

While sometimes workplace anger is manifest in “exploding.” other times it is born of grievances held by employees over any number of workplace issues. Much research shows that learning to forgive and let go of the wrongs done to you can release your anger and resentment. This, in turn, may improve your health, and help you focus on your job instead of your negative feelings.

Is “forgiveness” easy? Of course not. Nor does it mean that you think that whatever happened to you was right, or that you have to like the offending person. What it does mean is “letting go” of the negative feelings you now experience when you remember an negative experience or you encounter the offending person.

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