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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

Why it's Totally OK to Get Angry in the Office

When you think about the right way to handle getting riled up at work, you probably think of anger management. After all, the best way to remain professional is to stay cool, calm, and collected—right?

Turns out, though, anger in the office might help you out more than you think (if you know how to channel it right). A recent article by Jeff Haden of Inc. reports that some of the world’s most successful leaders—think the Steve Jobs’ and Jeff Bezos’ of the world—regularly express all manner of emotions, including anger. The difference between them and your co-worker who throws an adult tempter tantrum every time things don’t go his or her way? They know how to stay in control of their anger and harness it for its benefits (extra focus and a boost of adrenaline-driven confidence) rather than make a fool of themselves.

So what does this look like in action? Inc. suggests two great ways to keep your anger in check and productive. First, try handling these emotions as they come, rather than letting them bottle up until you explode with embarrassing rage:

When you feel irritated, don’t swallow those feelings. Think about how you feel. Think about why you feel the way you feel. Then work with how you feel. Say what you need to say, letting a little of your irritation show through. You won’t have to worry about losing your cool because, after all, you aren’t angry—you’re just irritated.

Second, try channeling your anger towards an action, rather than a person. If an employee makes a mistake, yelling at him is counterproductive (and makes you look like a terrible boss). By focusing on the situation that you’re angry about, rather than the person, you can use your anger in a more productive way:

Saying, ‘You do a great job, but I’m really struggling to understand why you did that. Can we talk about it?’ Directing your frustration at the action and not the employee helps reduce his or her feelings of defensiveness while still allowing you to express your frustration—which will help you both focus on solving the problem.

So, next time you’re feeling a little miffed at the office, don’t swallow that feeling. Make sure it’s not controlling you, yes, but use it in a controlled way to help you achieve your goals.

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