How to Manage Anger at Work

The professional world is not always fair, and circumstances frustrate us occasionally – or even more than occasionally.  Nevertheless, it’s in your best interest to refrain from showing exactly how pissed off you are at work.

Even if you have a legitimate cause, anger never reflects well on you.  Whether you display your anger in the form of an irate tirade, a single rude comment or subtle insubordination, failing to control this emotion can result in serious consequences.

During the most stressful phase of my career, my anger masked itself as tears.  I wasn’t fired or suspended, but I did compromise my credibility and reputation.  All it took was one supervisor to perceive me as immature and the next thing I knew, I wasn’t getting promoted.

Despite your best efforts, anger may threaten to overflow at times.  The key is to manage it so you don’t end up in hot water.  In the midst of a heated discussion or situation, try to assess when you’re losing control.  Tell the person or people you’re arguing with that you need to take a break and temporarily remove yourself from the situation.

Whether you’re right or not is irrelevant.  After all, winning the argument won’t mean anything if you lose your temper.  A month from now, your point will have been forgotten, but everyone who was within earshot will still remember your inappropriate behavior.

Go back to your office or cube and decompress.  Make an effort to relax, calm yourself down and adjust your thoughts to erode some of your negativity.  Consider ways to re-approach the situation anger-free, and then, catch up with your colleagues to continue the discussion in a civil manner.

Tagged as anger, , career tips, , emotional intelligence, .

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. A former nationally syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a current contributor for Fortune and Metro US, Alexandra has authored several books, including the bestselling They Don't Teach Corporate in College, How'd You Score That Gig?, Success for Hire, MillennialTweet, and New Job, New You. Her book on the top myths of business success is due out from Penguin/Berkley in the fall of 2011. Since serving as a member of Business Roundtable's Springboard Project, which advised the Obama administration on current workplace issues, Alexandra produced the critically acclaimed JobSTART 101 (, a free online course that better prepares college students and graduates for the challenges of the workplace. She is a frequent national media spokesperson and has been featured in thousands of outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, ABC News, Fox News, CNBC, the Associated Press, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. In 2010, she was named Money Magazine's Online Career Expert of the Year and the author of one of Forbes' best websites for women. Known as one of the premiere spokespeople of her generation, Alexandra regularly speaks at conferences, universities, and corporations around the world including the American Society for Training and Development, Campbell's Soup, McDonalds, and Whirlpool — on issues facing modern employees such as how to communicate effectively between generations.

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