Book Preview: Managing and Coping with Anger in the Workplace
Violence and destructive anger has reached an epidemic level in our culture and negatively impacts us in each arena and major tasks of life:
Our relationships with others
Our intimate relationships
The meaning and purpose of life
Our occupation, the earning of a living
Anger and violent conflicts in the workplace has become one of Corporate America's biggest problems. In a recent Gallup poll, two (2) out of every ten (10) employees confessed to being angry enough to "hurt" some co-worker in the last six(6) months! Indeed, every day, literally thousands of employees are killing and maiming each other as a result of their mis-mangaged and uncontrolled anger and rage. Many more thousands of "innocent" by-standers/co-workers are also being hurt or killed in the process. Too many managers and bosses are losing their lives each year because of the angry and violent actions of disgruntled employees. Make no mistake about it, the modern workplace of today is dangerous and becoming increasingly more violent and you can easily be hurt or even lose your life if you don't know how to manage your anger and the anger of your co-workers.
Much of the problem contributing to the epidemic anger and violence occurring in the workplace is that many people have attitudes about themselves, about others and about life which predispose them to behave in ways that are irrational and disrespecting towards others. Such persons are "culturally incompetent" and are not "sensitive" to other people "feelings" ways of seeing, doing and understanding things. They lack "insight" about other people beliefs, values and practices and are unable to "dialogue" about their differences. And when conflicts arise, their lack of "insight" and cultural competence makes positive cooperation difficult and sometimes, even impossible. This kind of cultural "narrow-mindedness" is then perceived as disrespect by others and triggers their anger (rage) and its violent consequences.
I have found that most of the inter-employee problems, manager/employee problems and violent conflicts on the job, arise out of this negative context of cultural ignorance. When co-workers, managers and employees learn how to make the transition from their mistaken or uninformed attitudes and expectations of others to more appropriate ones, their lives at work take on new meaning and purpose. They become capable of cooperating with each other as equal members of society. As employees, they become more efficient and productive at their job. They stop insulting and putting each other down and start helping each other up. They are moved into a relationship of mutual respect.
Mutual respect can be defined as a state in which two (or more) individuals respect themselves and each other in spite of their differences, faults and imperfections. In the context of mutual respect, each employee's feelings of self respect and sense of worth and value is enhanced. Of course, this does not mean "compromising" with any legitimate expectations based on each employee respective role and job function. But it does mean "respecting" the other person "humanity" in spite of his professional shortcomings, cultural differences or lack of competence. Even when the other person makes it very difficult for us to respect them by making useless "anger mischief," we can still disengage from their inappropriate or unprofessional behavior and respect them in spite of it! He (she) will not cooperate with us until, and unless we do.