Anger is a natural emotion that can arise anywhere even in the workplace. To help understand common mistakes people make when expressing anger at work and for tips on how to manage anger at work, I have interviewed psychologist Dr. Michael Keller.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a licensed clinical psychologist who provides a variety of out-patient, office-based services including therapy and psychological testing and assessment in a general practice setting. Further, I provide forensic psychological services for a wide variety of local and state governmental clients, also including county, state, and federal judicial venues. In addition, I also provide organizational consultative and training services, specializing in the area of organizational and individual resiliency. Also, I contract with a number of organizations and employers as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider. I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and my Master’s degree in counseling psychology from Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota. One of my areas of particular interest and specialization involves anger and anger management intervention.”
What are common mistakes people make when expressing their anger at work?
“I believe that one of the most critical mistakes made by those who express anger at work is their failure to appreciate the relationship between their expression of anger, and likely consequences. The expression of anger is not necessarily bad or something to be avoided. More so, a maladaptive expression of anger is the matter of concern.”
What type of impact do those mistakes have on their overall work experience?
“Such maladaptive expressions of anger often lead to costly work-place disruptions affecting the organization from the bottom-line level. Maladaptive expressions of anger frequently result in negative impacts to collaterally affected individuals within the organization, often creating a sense of working in a hostile environment. Most obviously, maladaptive expressions of anger can have negative implications for their career path within the organization, and possibly leading up to and including their termination from employment. The overall consequence of maladaptive expressions of anger in the work place diminishes individual and organizational performance, and degrades the experience of work as being fulfilling and productive.”
What are some healthy ways someone can manage their anger at work?
“I believe that managing anger begins with identifying underlying contributory factors. For example, anger within the work place often is in response to personal conflict between individuals, commonly referred to as emotional conflict. Other times, the source of anger might be frustration with the work itself or dissatisfaction with some aspect of the organization, commonly characterized as either task or organizational conflict. Often times, the identification of the source of anger or frustration in and of itself informs what next step might be best to take with regard to managing anger. For example, some things an individual can do is conferring with management about the concern, seeking consultation with human resources to help problem-solve, or learning effective individual anger-management strategies and/or frustration-tolerance skills so as to more successfully and productively express anger or frustration. Other times, sources of anger and frustration originate within one’s personal life and these feelings can be carried over into the work place and be tapped into when the individual experiences work-related stress or frustration
One of the most effective ways to manage anger is to gain insight between feelings of anger, versus the expressions of anger, and that one may find it more challenging to resist becoming angry in the first place, but still be entirely capable of adaptively expressing the anger so as to not create possible damaging consequences, personal and organizational. So, until the source of the anger is hopefully ultimately resolved, finding and employing adaptive ways of expressing anger is the first step. There are some more immediate steps one can take to help manage anger such a finding someone away from the source of anger or frustration to whom one can confide in regarding their feelings, thereby relieving stress and venting the anger in a neutral, non-damaging stetting.
Physical activity such as going for a brisk walk if possible, or engaging in distraction such as listening to music, and so on, can go a long way toward buying time so as to allow the level of anger intensity to diminish to more tolerable levels, again, until the source of the anger is ultimately successfully resolved.”
What type of professional help is available for someone who is having a difficult time managing his or her anger at work?
“Many times, employers contract with various individual therapists as well various behavioral health clinics for the provision of employee assistance programs, as identified earlier, EAP services. These providers are used as a source of professional and confidential counseling services for troubled or struggling employees. Often times the contract between the employer and the EAP provider permits the employee to be seen three or more times without any cost to the referred employee. These sessions are entirely private and confidential with no fear or concern on the part of the employee that their EAP information will ever be disclosed to their referring employer.
Another way of finding professional help is for the concerned individual to contact their health insurance plan and request referral to a provider in their network who specializes in providing anger management therapy. Finally, one can always conduct their own research so as to locate a provider specializing in anger management therapy but searching the internet, one’s local telephone directory, as well as seeking information from family or friends who may know of someone providing such services.”
Thank you Dr. Keller for doing the interview on how to manage your anger at work. For more information on Dr. Keller or his work you can check out his website at www.psychologicalserviceassociates.com.
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