Anger at Work: Folly or repentance?

Getting into a heated argument doesn’t just put you in a bad mood. It can also compromise your ability to perform everyday tasks. A famous quote reads: “Don’t make decisions when you’re angry. Don’t make promises when you’re happy.” As we know that human feelings keep running high for a variety of reasons. A search on Google News for the word “outrage” brings up 4.4 million results. Since emotions are contagious, there’s a bigger chance of running into angry people at work, too. And when anger spills over into the workplace, it can cause real damage to team decision-making.

According to emotional bias research from the Cloverpop team decision making database, anger only affects about one in 50 team decisions in typical business environments. Anger’s little cousin “irritated” is more common, but still affects fewer than 1 in 12 decisions. On the bright side, business decision makers are 10 to 20 times more likely to feel hopeful, interested or curious than they are to feel angry.

Do’s and Don’ts

It can be hard to stop anger once it affects a leader or infects a team, so the best defense is to avoid getting angry in the first place. That’s easier said than done, and works better when companies and teams build good decision-making habits in advance. Put clear processes in place for decision making, using checklists or other decision-making tools. Emphasize the importance of tracking key decision-making metrics, writing down what decisions are made and why, and communicating decisions broadly within the organization.

In this article, we shall discuss what you should never do when under the influence of anger, especially at work, with tips for regaining your composure. But when anger happens anyway, here’s what NOT to do:

1. Isolate

Will Rogers once said: “Never miss a good chance to shut up”. I know leaders

Who immediately go into a silent mode when they are angry or upset. They quickly isolate themselves. This could be one of the ways of expressing yourself in anger instead of yelling and shouting in public. I’ve learned it over time. Trust me, it takes a lot of courage and effort to understand this phenomenon. In fact, this allows you to reflect on the causes and effects of the real issue.

2. Postpone

It’s better to delay decisions that can affect your organization and employees in such situations. Agree with the team and put it off. That will be hard to do, because everyone will be angry and wanting to just do something. Resist the temptation, adjourn the meeting, go for a walk, meditate, sleep. Time will give perspectives.

3. Emails

This is one thing that I have learnt from one of my former bosses. While angry we are not in the right frame of mind, it’s important NOT to write an email. It will be a disaster and eventually a conflict. Write it down if you are craving for it, move it to the draft folder but never ever send it. I have done it so many times and guess what? I never sent those emails and eventually trashed.

4. Employee Meetings

As they say that teachers shouldn’t check exams papers when they are upset, same goes for the bosses with bad mood doing performance reviews of their employees. Imagine what must be running into employees’ minds and hearts when they see frowning faces of the bosses who are simply not prepared to listen anything. The angrier you are, the harder this will be. Just postpone such important events (including employees’ one-on-one meetings) where you are dealing with peoples’ careers.

5. Speeches

As discussed in the previous article, anyone paying attention to our voice and tone of speech can understand our emotional state, our level of confidence, the command we have over the language and also our geographical roots through the accent we may have acquired. We can be made or marred by what we say, so the way we speak is very important in our lives. We just can’t hide.

Final Word

To be precise, anger isn’t all bad. A little flare of anger or even a whiff of outrage can motivate or energize individual people. But anger drives narrow and short-sighted decision making when this extra energy is put into action. Angry leaders are overeager to act quickly, overconfident in the face of risk, rely too much on stereotypes, reject opposing information, and focus on personal rewards. Angry leaders are decisive but attracted to simplistic, trigger-happy choices.

Let’s admit that anger is a natural human experience, and sometimes there are valid reasons to get mad like feeling hurt by something someone said or did or experiencing frustration over a situation at work or home. But uncontrolled anger can be problematic for your personal relationships and for your health.

Learn how sometimes smaller things in our lives make huge impact and you can take some learnings on a personal and professional level by following me on LinkedIn and on our official website. Also follow us on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders.As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.

C-Level HR, Transformation Leader, Board Advisor, Writer, Business Coach & Organisational Consultant