We’ve all heard about road rage. But, have you heard about the latest area for people to dump their anger? Desk rage. Well, maybe it’s not really the latest. I wrote a book about violence in the workplace in 1994, “Ticking Bombs: Defusing Violence in the Workplace”. Same disease, now a new hipper name.
Verbal abuse, yelling, raging, rather than punches or other physical blows, are growing. When words are used to hurt, attack, injure, control or inflict harm, that’s abusive. It’s a form of enotional violence that aims to ruin another’s spirit and emotional wellbeing. Does your office have angry outbursts, name-calling, verbal degradation?
According to a 2014 survey in the U.S. workplace by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work; another 21% have witnessed it; 72% are aware that workplace bullying happens. But what’s more shocking, perhaps, is 72% of American employer reactions either condone or explicitly sustain bullying; less than 20% take actions to stop it. And of even more concern is that 61% of bullied targets lose their job with their employer; 74% lose their particular job.
What can be done about stress, anger and preventing the build-up of aggression at work? Of course, above all, make sure your workplace has a workplace anti-abuse policy that gives clear examples of what abuse and bullying are. Everyone should have that policy. And above al, the policy should be enforced.
When I consult with companies to promote healhty relationships, I advance healthy communications, healthy organizational outlets for emotion, healthy organizational structures, flexible work environments, managers trained to deal with stress prevention, and respite to stave off pressure.
Are you a powder keg? Do erroneously believe that others “should, must, ought to, have to,” do it your way? Do you foolishly “Demand, Insist and Expect” that others mustadhere to your policies? See that “D, I, E”? If so, perhaps having a chat with yourself might be a good idea. Is what you are thinking true? Is there a shred of evidence that others “must” listen to you? Or do you mean it’d be nice but not necessary if they did? You’d be a whole lot happier and freer thinkng this way, then “musterbating” and insisting that others follow your directives.
Here are some other tips to consider dialing down the powder in your keg:
- Listen to your spouse, family, and friends. Stop arguing with requests to slow down. Start planning how you’ll comply.
- The next time you see someone doing a task more slowly than you could, do not interfere. Maybe there’s a good reason that you’ll be fortunate enough to see.
- Never interrupt anyone.
- Read a long novel or website article about a subject far removed from your occupation.
- Purposely choose to wait in the longest line at the supermarket or toll plaza and use the time to reflect on what you enjoy about your life.
- Write a letter to an old friend. Don’t mention your job. Use a thesaurus at least once.
- Practice saying “no” to keep from overscheduling your time. Ask yourself whether you’ll care about every meeting or engagement in five years. Only attend those you think you’ll remember five years from now.
- Develop an imaginary “internal friend” who sits on your shoulder, observes your behavior, and reminds you to relax, slow down, smile, forgive, and focus on what’s really important.
- Laugh at yourself at least twice a day.
- Meditate before or after exerciing. Meditation beats medication.
Additional ideas to prevent stress and avoid the build-up of aggression in the workplace include the following ideas:
- Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get adequate rest. A person in good health is better able to deal with life’s inevitable stresses and strains. In addition, fatigue, poor diet, and physical flabbiness themselves can become significant stressors. Many studies show that regular exercise is one of the most effective stress reducers. In addition to the mental boost that exercise provides, feeling physically strong may help one feel more powerful and more in control.
- Analyze your problems. Too often, people feel overwhelmed by the apparent enormity of their problems. Some problems are, indeed, catastrophic, for example, the death of a child, but most are not. Try analyzing your problems. Write each one down, then break it into its various components. Small parts of larger problems usually feel more manageable. Once you’ve broken your big problems down, deal with them one small component at a time.
- Voice your concerns. Sometimes sharing your worries with a spouse or partner, relative, or close friend can lighten your burden. Have a mentor you trust at work? Speak with him/her. If your problems feel like more than you can handle with the help of friends or relatives, seek a valued coach.
- Feel your feelings. Often a good cry or yelling as loudly as you can while pounding on a pillow can help release pent-up frustration. Once you’ve “vented” it’s sometimes easier to find solutions.
- Work to accept change as inevitable. In one study, psychologists asked a large number of adults over 40 what they considered the keys to personal happiness. “Happiness” is really just another way of saying you have your stressors under control. The respondents hardly mentioned such classic psychological notions as early childhood relations with parents. Topping their list was “personal resilience,” the ability to accept change. Change is inevitable. If you habitually resist it, you’re likely to be plagued with stress-related health problems. Instead, try to follow this precept from Alcoholics Anonymous: God grant me the courage to change what I can, the strength to accept what I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.
- Fill your life with things that you feel happy about. Beyond such basic necessities as food, clothing, shelter, and a job, it’s life’s little pleasures that bring the most happiness. Take the time to enjoy your children. Play with a pet. Listen to music. Work in your garden. Go to a concert, play, or movie. Stroll through a park. Do whatever gives you pleasure, and chances are your stressors won’t feel so threatening.
- Vary your mental diet. Changes of scenery often work wonders for one’s emotional outlook. Take breaks at work. Take a walk at lunch. Vary your leisure activities. Take classes. Meet new people. Schedule vacations and weekend getaways.
- Practice stress-prevention techniques. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, biofeedback, meditation, cardio exercise, and progressive relaxation exercises are all described in the next section.
When all else fails, remember that it’s a job. No job is worth dying for. Change your scenery if necessary, and your job if you must. Better yet, follow this: “Don’t sweat it, don’t’regret it, move on and forget it!