Dealing with anger in the workplace

closed fist

“When a person expresses anger towards another, they are actually reflecting on anger within themselves. In essence, “a person cannot be angry with someone else, they can only be angry with themselves”1

Do you find yourself exposed to your work colleagues angry rant or stoney silence?
Do they make you feel angry too?

Rather than take on their emotion – stop and think of this quote. Don’t invest your time and emotional energy trying to work out how you made them angry. You haven’t made that person angry. Only that person can allow themselves to become angry.

You may wish to self reflect on what you might have done or said – perhaps your communication and behaviour could do with some fine tuning. But don’t take on that person’s baggage and definitely don’t try to solve their problems.

How you respond (and not react) will be very important. Concentrate on staying emotionally neutral and communicating constructively. Getting angry with that person, getting angry at someone else, avoiding that person or being overly nice could mean that you too have relinquished your choice to respond rather than react.

Don’t feel sorry for your colleague. It is not until that person recognises they have reacted (badly) and chosen not to respond appropriately that they might look for some solutions. Wait until you are invited to offer support and even then, I wouldn’t be offering any of my thoughts as being the guru on ‘how you must change/ what you must do’.

Coaching that person to look for the answers that suit them for the time and place they currently find themselves will have a far greater impact, will encourage situational reflection and learning and perhaps grow into a building block for greater trust and courtesy in the workplace relationship.

  1. Quentin Jones, Managing Director at Human Synergistics
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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.