Blog [07 July] How To Manage Workplace Anger

Your boss is always criticising, your co-workers don’t pull their weight and you don’t get issued with the right tools for a job. When you feel like you’re constantly being dumped on at work, it can be hard to keep your cool.

It’s normal to feel a wide spectrum of emotions in the workplace – including anger – though if left unchecked, anger can lead to poor decisions, fractured relationships and even health problems like high blood pressure.

According to one Australian survey, being treated unjustly is the most common cause of workplace anger, followed by immoral behaviour and being disrespected by co-workers. Though it is possible to manage your anger on site, and channel it into an emotion that serves you productively. Here’s how to manage your anger at work.

Acknowledge rather than fight those feelings

As you sense the rage simmering inside you, it’s crucial to view these emotions as information rather than blowing your top immediately.

Anger is a valid human response to a perceived threat. So allow time to observe and validate your feelings rather than leaping into action which could only trigger potential negative consequences.


Anger doesn’t just affect your mood. Your body experiences physical changes like a rapid heartbeat, perspiration, and tense muscles. Your brain releases catecholamines which charge your body up for a physical burst of energy.

When you’re angry, your breathing speeds up and become shallow. By practicing some simple breathing techniques, you can help quell those physical anger symptoms. Take some deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Inhale deeply into your belly rather than the upper parts of your lungs. Continue this for a few minutes until you feel the rage starting to subside.

Once your physiology calms, your mind will follow.

Take time out

Perhaps this means walking away from a situation which could erupt, maybe you could lunch alone away from your colleagues, or even just escape to the toilet for five minutes to take some deep breaths. Sometimes just physically distancing yourself from whatever or whoever is fanning your flames can do a world of good in diffusing your anger, giving you time to reflect and form a clam path on your terms.

Make your anger work for you

There is evidence that when channelled carefully and strategically, anger has its benefits. One study revealed that when anger was of low intensity and expressed verbally in settings where anger expressions are normatively appropriate, the outcomes were positive.

Of course, this doesn’t mean going in all guns blazing, moreover, choosing your words carefully and articulating your grievances in a firm yet professional manner.

Consider an approach of talking to your colleague or boss with a sentence like, “when you do or say X, I feel Y.”

Adopt a solutions-based mindset

OK so you’re all riled up about something yet dwelling on it will do you no good and leave you drained. Think of anger as your teacher or motivator that can spur you into finding a solution to whatever the problem is.

Think about why you are angry, what is the perceived threat? Is it that your fairness values are being challenged, is it that you are blocked from doing or achieving something, is it that you feel overwhelmed?

Once you understand the source of the perceived threat you can address the underlying cause. Maybe that means calmly confronting the person in question? Perhaps you can revaluate your approach to your task? Give yourself space to think about what your desired long-term outcome would be before taking the necessary steps to achieve it.

The likelihood is you can constructively work with your boss or team mates to implement better protocols and strategies that will support all of you and your organisation in the long term.

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