… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Job Vent: When Employees Fly Off the Handle

Hey there my darling readers, I have a special treat for all of you today! No, it’s not fudge. Mmm, fudge. No what I have for you is a very special guest post from the awesome Dr. Daniel Crosby. Now, I don’t often accept guest posts, but seriously, after you read the great stuff below, you’ll understand why I said yes.

Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival, but when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (e.g., a coworker or supervisor) or event (e.g., a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Research has found that “flying off the handle” actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you’re angry with) resolve the situation. It’s best to find out what it is that triggers your anger, and then to develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge. The following are some excellent strategies that you can try the next time you feel yourself “flying off the handle.”

Relax
Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help soothe angry feelings.

Try these simple steps:
* Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm. Breathing from your chest won’t relax you, so picture your breath coming up from your “gut.”
* Slowly repeat a calming word or phrase, such as “relax” or “take it easy.” Keep repeating it to yourself while breathing deeply.
* Use imagery. Visualize a relaxing experience from your memory or your imagination.
* Try non-strenuous, slow exercises. Yoga and similar activities can relax your muscles and calm you down.

Practice these techniques daily. Eventually, you’ll be able to use them automatically when you’re in a tense situation.

Cognitive Restructuring
Simply put, cognitive restructuring means changing the way you think. When you’re angry, your thinking can get overly dramatic. When something goes wrong, you might tell yourself, “Everything’s ruined!” With cognitive restructuring, you replace those kinds of thoughts with more reasonable ones. You might tell yourself instead, “This is frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world.”

Try these strategies:

* Avoid words like “never” or “always” when talking about yourself or others. Statements like “This never works” or “You’re always forgetting things” make you feel your anger is justified and there’s no way to solve the problem. Such statements also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.
* Start with heart. Say you have a friend who’s constantly late when you get together. Don’t go on the attack. Instead, think about what you want to accomplish. State the problem and then try to find a solution that works for both of you. If that doesn’t work, take matters into your own hands. You might tell your friend to meet you half an hour earlier than you plan to arrive, so that he or she will get there when you do. Either way, the problem is solved — without damaging the friendship.
* Use logic. Even when it’s justified, anger can quickly become irrational. Remind yourself that the world is not out to get you and that you’re just experiencing one of life’s inevitable rough spots. Do this each time you start feeling angry, and you’ll get a more balanced perspective.
* Translate expectations into desires. Angry people tend to demand things, whether it’s fairness, appreciation, agreement, or just the willingness to do things their way. We are all hurt, disappointed, and frustrated when we don’t get what we want, but don’t let disappointment turn into anger. Some people use anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn’t make the hurt go away. Instead, become aware of your demanding nature and change your demands into requests. Saying you would like something is healthier than saying you must have it.

Problem Solving

Sometimes anger and frustration are the result of very real and inescapable problems in our lives. Anger can be a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. Some people have a cultural belief that every problem has a solution. That belief adds to their frustration when they find out that this isn’t always true. If you can’t find a solution, focus on how to handle and face the problem. Make a plan and check your progress along the way, using a guide to organizing or time management if needed. Give it your best, but don’t punish yourself if you don’t find an answer right away.

Better Communication
Angry people tend to jump to conclusions, however far-fetched. If you are in a heated discussion, slow down. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. And take your time before answering. Instead of saying the first thing that comes into your head, think carefully about what you want to say. Think about what’s behind your anger. Say you value your freedom, but your significant other wants more closeness. If he or she starts complaining, don’t retaliate by painting you partner as a jailer. It’s natural to get defensive when you’re criticized, but don’t fight back. Instead, listen to what’s beneath the words. Perhaps the real message is that your partner feels neglected and unloved. It may take patient questioning, but don’t let anger spin things out of control.

Using Humor
Humor can help defuse rage in several ways. For one thing, it can help you get a more balanced perspective. When you find yourself thinking of a coworker as a single-cell life form, think what that would look like, picturing an amoeba sitting at a desk and talking on the phone. Or draw a picture. Doing so will take the edge off your fury or help defuse a tense situation. Humor can also help when you find yourself being unreasonable. If you find yourself thinking that things not going your way is an unbearable indignity you shouldn’t have to tolerate, picture yourself as a god or goddess who always gets your way while others defer to you. The more detail you add, the more you’ll realize how unreasonable you are and how unimportant the things you’re angry about really are. There are two cautions in using humor. First, don’t try to just “laugh off” your problems. Rather, use humor to help yourself face them more constructively. Second, don’t use harsh, sarcastic humor. Such humor is just another form of aggression. What these techniques have in common is a refusal to take yourself too seriously.

Changing Your Environment
Sometimes it’s your immediate circumstances that prompt angry feelings. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you angry at the trap you seem to have fallen into — and all the people and things that form that trap.

Try these other tips for easing up:
* Give yourself a break. Make sure to schedule some personal time during especially stressful parts of the day. You might have a rule that the first 15 minutes after coming home from work will be quiet time, for example. With this brief respite, you’ll feel better prepared to handle demands from your kids without blowing up.
*Consider the timing. If you and your spouse tend to fight at night, perhaps it’s because you’re tired, distracted, or just accustomed to fighting then. Try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don’t turn into arguments.
* Avoid what you can. If you get furious at the sight of a coworker, avoid them. Don’t make yourself look at what infuriates you. And don’t tell yourself that your coworker should not be so annoying so you won’t have to be angry. That’s not the point: The point is to keep yourself calm.

Knowing how to deal with anger can make a huge difference in your work and social life. If these techniques are practiced regularly, you will find yourself responding more effectively to life’s little surprises.

If you enjoyed that, and I’m sure you did, then please go check out Dr. Dan’s new site Suited Jobs and find out how close your current job relates to your dream job!

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