Something happened at work last week that has landed
me in big trouble and gotten me really confused. Basically,
I just lost it with an employee; started yelling at
him and called him a couple of names over a mistake he
made that shut the line down for about 15 minutes. He
was shocked and so was I, and I was also really embarrassed.
I am basically a very relaxed, easy going guy. I
let a lot of things slide. I donâ€™t throw my weight around
or demand my own way. I try to get along. Maybe the
stress just got to me. We are short-handed and working
double shifts right now. Anyhow, now I have an evaluation
meeting with HR and something is going into my
file. I donâ€™t want this to happen again. What should I
Temporarily Wacky in Waukegan
Just because you donâ€™t throw things and punch people
out all the time, that doesnâ€™t mean you donâ€™t have
an anger problem. Anger can be expressed in several
different ways, and most of them are not healthy. Depending
on how the terms are defined, there are at
least three, and some would say four, distinct anger
styles. Each one conveys a slightly different message.
Aggressive anger conveys the message â€œI
count, you donâ€™t count.â€
Characterized by shouting, name-calling, and, sometimes,
physical violence, this is what most people think
of when they think of anger. Aggressive anger is what
does the most damage to relationships and causes the
most problems in the workplace. One who is expressing
aggressive anger is using intimidation and fear to
get his own way about something, and, at least for the
moment, he doesnâ€™t care who is hurt or offended in the
process. But this is not the only form of expressing anger.
Passive anger conveys the message â€œYou count,
I donâ€™t count.â€
Someone who is passively angry will hold his own feelings
inside, giving in to the demands of others in order
to avoid conflict. He will rarely ask for what he needs or
say how he really feels. These â€œbottled-upâ€ feelings will
eventually explode into a very noisy, destructive event,
but, for the most part, someone with a passive anger
style feels unimportant and overlooked, and tries to
keep it that way.
Passive-aggressive anger conveys the
message â€œI donâ€™t count and neither do youâ€
If you know someone who tries to control situations
and people around him through sarcasm, cruel personal
humor, and rolling his eyes before turning around
and walking away in the middle of a conversation that
someone else thought was important to finish, you
have seen passive-aggressive anger in action. This anger
style treats others with disrespect, but in a way that
is subtle rather than overt, thereby leaving the perpetrator
an out to say, â€œOh, I was only kidding. Canâ€™t you
take a joke?â€ or, â€œOh, I guess I didnâ€™t hear you. Itâ€™s too
late now.â€ They donâ€™t have the courage to stand up for
themselves, or the integrity to respect others. This anger
style is very popular at work.
Assertiveness conveys the message, â€œYou count,
and so do Iâ€
An assertive person is one who, after listening to the
message that his anger is sending him, goes to the root
of the problem within himself first and identifies what
is triggering his fear and what needs to be changed.
Then he politely but firmly addresses the problem with
the person who have the most impact to improve the
situation, stating exactly how he feels and asking for
exactly what he needs, and then stands his ground.
An assertive person wants those around him to know,
â€œBecause I care about you, I am going to treat you with
respect. But since I also care about me, I am going to
make sure I am also treated with respect.â€
It is clear that we should all be aiming to be more Assertive
in the way we express ourselves when it comes
to dealing with our anger, but it isnâ€™t easy to get there,
even for people who have been teaching it for years.
Assertiveness takes courage, patience, and practice,
but it always produces better results than any of the
other three approaches.
Take your own anger pulse
Review the four anger styles discussed above. Based
on the information I just provided, what do you think
your typical anger style is? Write it below.
Under normal circumstances, when I am angry my typical
way of dealing with anger is:
Just for the sake of objectivity, ask someone who knows
you well (perhaps your spouse or a colleague) to go
review the four anger styles. Ask them to tell you how
they see you dealing with anger. Write their answer below.
Others see my typical anger style to be:
Is their answer different than the one you chose for
yourself? If so, can you understand why they chose the
answer they did for you?
Based on what you told me, it sounds like your anger
style tends to be more passive. If so, you are not alone.
A lot of us hold things inside, hoping to keep things
going smoothly and avoid a confrontation, but all too
often, things eventually reach a boiling point. Stress at
work is a perfect trigger. When you have your meeting
with HR, let them know you would like to work on
becoming more assertive. They may have some training
to offer you. If not, you can always check out www.
angermanagementseminar.com. We have some tools
there that will help you.