We all feel anger from time to time: It's just one of those emotions that make us human. It's especially common to get angry at work, whether we're dealing with a particularly challenging project or simply not seeing eye-to-eye with a co-worker. Saying what's truly on your mind, however, has its own time and place — and that's usually not at the office.
Like so many women raised with conflicting feelings about expressing feelings of anger, particularly when it bubbles up in a professional setting, our inclination is to batten down the hatches so tightly that there is little to no chance of those negative emotions rising to the surface where we might actually have to deal with them. What if experiencing our anger were to lead us to do something crazy at work — like raise our voices, cry, or even, say something… nasty?
Each of us has our own style of dealing with anger at work, and one way may not necessarily be the “right way” or better than someone else’s approach. Rachel prides herself on being able to get angry early and often. You’ll hear her voice rise in meetings or on conference calls, and she’ll keep going, right up to the edge of “she’s going to lose it”… and yet, she never does. Our theory is that she’s so comfortable with expressing her feelings of anger or frustration as they come up, that she just never gets to the point where they boil over.
Suzanne deals with her anger differently — often by shutting down the minute she feels it start to rise to the surface. But every now and then, especially when her fingers are on a keyboard, she’ll let loose. When she hits ‘send’ on an email written in that state of mind, the results aren’t pretty. This has led to her email mantra of “think twice, hit send once.” She and Rachel also send each other important emails for the purpose of “checking for tone” before the note goes out — particularly when the recipient is a client.
Talking about our different ways of dealing with anger compelled us to learn more about what triggers anger at work, and how to manage it in a productive and healthy way, especially when you’re face-to-face with your boss, or in a meeting with your co-workers.
Expressing your anger in all its glory may not be the answer, but bottling up these emotions likely won't get us anywhere, either. After all, if the root of the problem remains unresolved, chances are that the situation (and the anger) will only worsen. Finding a balance — effectively communicating how you feel, but in a calm and rational manner — is the ideal compromise. For most people, this is easier said than done!
Enter Anne Kreamer. Kreamer is one of the founders of Spy Magazine, a Fast Company columnist, and the author of several books, including It's Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace. She visited our podcast to give us the full lowdown on anger at work, and we didn’t cry once.
Kreamer told us that the physiology of crying actually makes women more predisposed to tears than their male counterparts. She also shared a fascinating data point from her research, which reveals that women tend to judge other women more harshly than men do for being emotional at work.
The best part?
Kreamer also told us how to change our physiology during that moment of anger at work, which is ridiculously simple: get up from your desk (or from the meeting table), and walk to get a drink of water. That set of actions resets your body, as well as your mind.
Listen to the podcast:
About The Big Payoff
The [email protected] is a podcast produced each month on topics chosen specifically for the audience of DailyWorth subscribers. It offers career advice “served straight up, with a twist,” by longtime best friends and business partners, Rachel Bellow and Suzanne Muchin. Taped in Chicago and New York, episodes are posted biweekly on the ACast platform, and can be found on iTunes, on your podcast app, on Stitcher, WGNradio.com, and BigPayoffRadio.com.