How appropriate is showing anger in the workplace?
This is a question I repeatedly ask myself as I have matured over the years.
At the start of my career, I would swallow any rising anger that rose from my belly. A client or senior colleague is being outrageously rude? I smile away my anger and take in the rudeness not willing to make the environment non conducive for work.
If I am honest, I was most probably scared that if I showed my anger, I will conform to the “black angry woman” stereotype. So I never knew how to act.
The longer I worked in the corporate world, the more I realised that if I kept my anger to myself, I would be enabling foolish behaviour and hurting myself in the long run.
I did not want to be like other colleagues I had observed who will yell obscenities and lose their cool because they were angry.
I had to be different.
It is difficult for someone as calm as I am to show anger because I care about the way I am perceived when angry.
However, there is a time to care and a time to not care.
I wanted to not care.
I started watching YouTube videos about channelling your anger the right way.
I am sure you are wondering why this was important to me. I cannot properly articulate why but one thing I did not want was for people who reported to me walking on eggshells just because I was angry.
Now, I even find reasons to be angry as I have learned, and still learn, how to channel my anger to bolster productivity.
What is my secret sauce? It’s no secret but here is what I do:
1 I acknowledge the fact that I am angry. One of the things I did when I was much younger was deny that I was angry and that got me even angrier. Now, when I feel the fire of anger burning within my loins, I acknowledge it.
2 I take a deep breath. Literally. I know it is a cliché but taking a deep breath helps me think of words that cannot be misconstrued as the ravings of a mad woman.
3 I take my time to enjoy the anger. Yes, you read right. I need to enjoy the anger. In my haste to stop being angry within a short period, I found that it took longer to have the anger dissipate.
4 I speak slowly if I have to speak at all. Naturally, I am a fast talker and when I am angry, my pitch gets high and I talk even faster. I sound like a screeching bird when I am filled with rage. I don’t want anyone thinking that I am a screeching bird. (Remember, I care about how I am perceived when angry). So I pace myself (about 2 – 3 words a second).
5 I write. In many scenarios at the workplace, it is an email that sets me off. Instead of replying immediately to the moronic email, I open a draft email and type furiously and click the save button. That helps me get it all off my chest and sometimes when I read my draft replies, I cringe.
6 In extreme scenarios, I go boxing. Thankfully there is a gym close to me both at work and at home so when I feel that the bile of anger still in me, I put on my very pink boxing gloves and beat cushions out of the punching bag. At the end, I am so tired that staying angry is not an option.
What do you do when you are angry at work?