Slamming down the phone, yelling at coworkers, giving the computer (or copier) a good whack, shouting profanities, and throwing papers in frustration - psychologists may call this counterproductive behavior, but in more down-home terms it's known as desk rage.
Regardless of what name it is called, one thing seems clear: worldwide, workplace outbursts of anger are on the rise. One survey of 1500 workers by by Christine Pearson at UNC-Chapel Hill found that 12 percent of those surveyed had quit a job at some point to avoid nasty people at work and 45 percent were thinking about doing so. Moreover, more than half of those interviewed reported losing time at work worrying about other people's rude behavior toward them.
But what if you're the one who tends to blow your top, lose your cool and in general become one ball of red heat to deal with. The experts say that even when your anger is justified, either suppressing it or expressing it in a destructive way is harmful.
So the next time you feel your internal temperature begin to rise, try the eight steps outlined below to calm yourself back down.
Step #1: Take a few deep breaths and count to ten.
Step #2: Ask yourself: What are you feeling? What emotions are you are experiencing? Explore beyond the tip of the emotional iceberg - what are you feeling underneath?
Step #3: Ask yourself: What is it about this situation - specifically - that is making you feel angry? What are the circumstances?
Step #4: Ask yourself: What are you telling yourself about this person or situation? What trigger thoughts are you having?
Step #5: Spend thirty seconds thinking of a less personal/more positive reason why the person may be acting this way (or why this situation is the way it is).
Step #6: Substitute your crazy-making thoughts for calming ones. We asked our clients to tell us what calming thoughts they have found particularly useful in dealing with anger on the job. The answers we heard the most often included:
"This will pass."
"Take this one step at a time."
"I am not going to be the victim of these circumstances."
"I am angry and I can take care of this."
"Focus on what I have to get done and do it."
"Where is the humor in this situation?"
Step #7: Ask yourself: What outcome are you looking for? What do you want to have happen (or have stop happening) in the situation?
Step #8: Ask yourself: What actions can you take to achieve your objective?
Use problem-solving methods such as communication, negotiation, leverage, etc.
Tune in next week when I will cover the other side of the coin - how to deal with the other person's desk rage.
Please note that this article is copyrighted by Karen Leland. If you would like to reprint any or all of it on your blog or website for non-commercial purposes, you are welcome to do so, provided you give credit and a live link back to this post.
Karen Leland is author of Watercooler Wisdom: How Smart People Prosper in the Face of Conflict, Pressure and Change. Read more at her blog As Soon As I Finish Carving The Ice Sculpture - True Confessions of an Overachiever