WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY, YOU: TAKE REVENGE
“A teammate once blamed me for something so I got back by embarrassing her in front of a client and then later, excluding her from an important meeting. When she confronted me, I smiled at her sweetly and told her I had no idea what she was talking about.” – Jordan*
The next time you are confronted, voice your concerns. Ask to have the discussion out in the open so that you don’t end up carrying these vengeful ideas around in your head. If you can’t compose yourself at that point, stop and walk away to calm yourself down first.
It would help to also write down what you want to say and then arrange a meeting where both of you can discuss the problem openly.
WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY, YOU: EXPLODE
“I slam doors, kick my chair, and become this unapproachable, maniacal person. My outbursts are legendary and I’ve developed a bad reputation over the years because of it. My boss thinks my temper tantrums are not good for the company’s image and I agree. I lost out on a big promotion earlier this year.” – Melanie*
There are two common reasons for this kind of behaviour – lack of self-confidence (blowing up gets you the attention you seek) and a work environment that is competitive and hostile. If it’s serious, you could work with an anger management coach. A quicker fix is to get a colleague to warn you whenever she senses that you’re about to lose it.
For example, she can accidentally spill coffee and say she has to go to the washroom to break the tension, or shoot you a sharp look. Or wear a rubber band around your wrist. When you get mad, snap it against your skin as a reminder to chill out. Other ways to vent? Writing a note about how you feel and then destroying it, or taking a calming walk around the office block.
WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY, YOU: BLAME YOURSELF
“I find it easier to be mad at myself than at someone else. When I ask a colleague for help and she refuses, instead of telling her how I feel, I turn the disappointment inwards and convince myself that no one at work cares about me enough to want to help me with even a simple task. And then I get angry at myself and wonder why I’m so hopeless.” – Carol*
People who self-blame tend to think this is the way to motivate themselves to improve. Instead, you should use your desire to improve to learn more about your personality and the way you think. Then you can figure out what’s the best thing to do. For example, are you a people-pleaser and thus afraid to confront the person who made you angry? Perhaps you could e-mail her privately and tell her how you feel. So the next time something goes wrong, you’ll stop blaming yourself.
WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY, YOU: TURN PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE
“My M.O. is cracking jokes that have a hidden, negative meaning. Once, I took my anger out on a colleague who was promoted over me. She had been moved to a much larger cubicle, so I walked over to her and said, ‘Congrats on your promotion, I guess a big ego deserves a big office, right?’ Then I laughed. Pretending to be funny helps conceal my anger.” – Eliza*
You need to pinpoint what is making you mad, and why you can’t express it openly and maturely. The next time you are angry, stop and count to 10 so you can think carefully about your words. In that time, ask yourself: Is that backhanded compliment really going to help the situation? Knowing that it won’t will help you come up with a more open, mature approach.
WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY, YOU: STONEWALL
“It’s hard for me to express my feelings when I’m angry, so I bottle them up and pretend that I’m not affected. When my colleagues ask me if I’m okay, I just shrug and walk away. I can’t bring myself to tell them the truth because I know I’ll break down or scream at them. I want them to know I’m angry but I don’t want to have to say it.” – Sheila*
Think about where your anger “shows up” – as an ache in your chest, heat in your head, a pain in your throat or some other physical sensation. Instead of thinking about what made you mad, focus on the physical effect. When you do this, you realise the anger is actually hurting you. From there, practise talking with a friend about what made you angry. By involving others, you will get over it.
WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY, YOU: GET SNARKY
“No thanks to a colleague, my team lost a bid for a very lucrative project. For the rest of the month, I taunted her with snide comments about her laziness and kept reminding her how we’d lost the bid because of her. She eventually resigned a few months later. I hate to admit it, but I relished making her feel incompetent.” – Julia*
Rudeness and sarcasm point towards an inferiority complex, as spewing insults gives you a shot of pleasure by tearing down other people’s self-esteem and building yours. You could try the rubber-band technique to help you break out of this destructive pattern.
Or you could again get a buddy at work, particularly someone whom you respect, to quickly warn you when she can sense your sharp tongue is about to get the better of you.
*Names have been changed
Expert advice from:
- Founder and executive coach at Next Corporate Coaching Services
- Australia-based personal branding expert and career coach from Advanced Employment Concepts
- Hong Kong-based career and leadership coach from Loving Your Work
This story was originally published in the November 2012 issue of Her World.