Career advice

How to express your anger at work

Constructive criticism, creative differences and heated debate in the workplace can be a good thing. Lashing out when you’re angry, however, alienates your colleagues, supervisors or clients and erodes their respect. If you’re dealing with anger badly at work, this reputation can follow you wherever you go, making it harder and harder to get ahead.
We generally feel angry in response to feeling threatened, hurt, challenged or scared. These feelings help us understand our values or beliefs – what we really care about. An apathetic employee doesn’t get angry about the quality of work, only the person who cares about the job that they are performing will get angry. However, it is important to know how best to express your anger at work.
There are social norms that dictate acceptable ways of expressing the anger. Profanity, threatening statements, belittling remarks, tantrums, throwing things, etc. are not acceptable behavioural expressions in the workplace. Talking about one’s concerns, feelings and frustrations is appropriate and constructive but best done in private. This is how people expect professionals to behave in the workplace.
Here are four tips to help you to deal with anger at work. 

1. Take a time out

When you start to feel the anger welling up inside you, step out of the office for 10min and get some fresh air. Give your rational mind a chance to catch up with your emotions.

2. Think before you speak 

Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything. Allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

3. Slow down

Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering. In the heat of the moment we often say things we regret later.

4. Seek help

If you feel like you are losing control of your anger at work, seek help by arranging a meeting with somebody from HR. Many companies have Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) that can help with difficulties in and out of the workplace. If an EAP is not available, consider seeking professional help outside of your company.
Although we are socialised to believe that anger is bad, it is an emotion that can be instructive. The positive resolution of conflict and anger is a skill which is vital in the workplace.
For more workplace and career advice, browse the Michael Page Career Centre