Conquering Anger in the Workplace

Have you ever worked with someone that always seemed irritated or agitated?  You never know at what point they are just going to snap at you?  Eventually, we find that it doesn’t take too long for that attitude to rub off on everyone else’s attitudes as well.

What is anger?  It tends to be an emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.  It’s a natural response when we feel threatened, but can also be from frustration when our needs, desires, and personal goals aren’t being met.  It’s important to realize that anger is a normal emotion, but when it leads to actions that are impulsive or aggressive, or even violent, this presents a concern.

In my role as an Owner of a Virtual Assistant business, it would be harder for me to see such actions, as I do not necessarily see my team members on a day to day basis, but these actions, when extreme, still can present some red flags.

angerSigns to look for:

  • Snappy emails.  Do employees seem pleasant in their correspondence?  Is email communication friendly and inviting, or short and snappy?  If short and snappy, maybe try to promote a little more communication from your co-workers or employees.  Ask how they are doing or what they did over the weekend.  Maybe this will spark the issue and help them move forward.
  • Negativity.  Do you find the attitude of your employees to be positive consistently, or are you sensing that something is triggering negativity in their work?  Maybe they are dissatisfied in what they do and they need more challenges?  Are they looking for positive reinforcement?  Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the same patterns day in and day out.  Break it up.  Throw in a company lunch.  Encourage employees to be a part of the team and acknowledge their skills and capabilities.  Rewards, even in the smallest of circumstances, can go a long way!
  • Depression.  If every thought is borderline sad or depressing, there may be a very serious, more involved issue.  If your company allows, refer them to an Employee Assistance Program, common among benefit plans.  This is obviously one of the most extremes of anger in the workplace, but if recognized early, it may avoid accidents or injuries or even disciplinary action such as job loss, arrest, and even imprisonment.

The main point that I want to stress is when employees are happy, the workplace atmosphere is a more serene place.  Anger pushes people away and causes negativity to brew amongst employees.  Recognize the signs and challenge them.  Offer solutions such as an Employee Assistance Program, company lunches, or small talk conversations.  Engage yourself with your employees to keep up with what is occurring in their personal lives.  Even if they are very private with their own lives, it never hurts to ask questions and show some interest.  This may be the subtle differences in keeping a positive work environment amongst all employees, whether they are in your immediate office, or on a virtual team, such as is the case for my team members.

To Swear Or Not To Swear In the Workplace, That Is the Question.

“While a July 2012 survey by CareerBuilder found that bosses might be less likely to promote employees who swear, more than half of respondents said they do it anyway,” states Gwen Moran in The Daily Dose. We all do it from time to time, but does that make it right?  Whether your work place allows swearing or it is severely frowned upon, you should keep the following in mind.

  • Be upfront about your workplace culture.  State the obvious expectations and do so as early as in the interview process.  If you have a freelance business where language is not considered offensive, it is essential to let your future employees know this.  By doing this, your new employees may be less offended in the long run.  It also informs the future employee of expectations of them and a possibility to avoid the embarrassment if they decide to drop those not so pleasant f-bombs.  Most importantly, once you’ve established the culture of the office, be the model for that environment.  If swearing is frowned upon, you don’t want to be the one to “go off” during a meeting, as others will soon follow your lead.
  • Respect other’s feelings.  Age, gender, and religion are just a few of the factors that play into how employees feel.  One person cussing in a fashion such as “this sucks,” may be much more offensive to an older employee in the office, than a younger employee.  Above all, encourage employees to avoid offensive language, especially around those that could be insulted by such remarks.  We all have slip-ups from time to time, but it shouldn’t be too much of an endeavor to refrain from the big cuss words.  And most importantly, avoid cussing around customers, vendors, and suppliers, especially if you don’t know how they feel about such language.  Being professional is only going to benefit your company’s image and future successes.
  • Consider context.  If you don’t appreciate colorful language as a boss, and you hear someone accidently swear, it’s probably best that you not make the biggest deal about it.  You’ve stated your opinion on the culture that you wish to uphold, and employees should respect that.  As we’re all adults, these mishaps are bound to happen.  It’s when they become abused, that you should consider addressing the issue.  A happy work place is just that and we want our employees to feel at ease and comfortable.

So… to swear or not to swear is the question that you, as a boss, will need to address.  If you’re not offended by cussing, make sure your employees know this.  If you are, then that is equally important.  Be the model for the behavior that you would like to see throughout the work place.  Set the limits and the boundaries.  The face of your company comes from within, and it’s up to you as to how you want your company’s image to be portrayed.