ICEL Chair: Anger Danger
by Tina Hatfield, CBA, Mountainland Supply
Recently I engaged in a pretty heated argument. I was visiting one of our branches that I rarely get to visit. Before I could even set my laptop bag down, one of my coworkers immediately started to verbally attack me and my team. I went completely into defense and momma bear mode and my anger was made known in full force. I was angry because that is not how anyone should be greeted, especially in a public setting. I was angry because my team is short staffed by half of what we need to have a comfortably busy workload. I was angry because this person frequently speaks to others this way. And well, I was just ANGRY! In hindsight, I didn’t react in the best way.
Due to the nature of our jobs, we will sometimes find ourselves in these types of situations. It is the nature of our careers. Our processes and decisions will always be questioned by someone. How we handle the questioning when it crosses the civility line that evokes anger can determine our success, respectability, and happiness.
I have always excelled in creating boundaries, one of which is establishing a civil tone when communicating and not allowing myself to be belittled. I can usually shut down this behavior quickly, but this day, I let myself down and lost my control. Had I been able to successfully diffuse my own anger, I would have better been able to diffuse the anger in my coworker. Here is what I have learned.
First off, I should have politely disengaged myself immediately. Using a simple phrase such as, “this isn’t the place to have this discussion, lets discuss this at a later time today,” would have been a far better reaction.
Secondly, I should have removed myself to a quiet place to just breathe and calm down.
Thirdly, I should have attempted to understand my coworker. I am usually great at doing this. But in the case with this coworker, this has been an issue for many years and my patience just ran out.
Finally, this part I did do, I just replaced all the calming steps for angry reactions. I had a very candid discussion. I recognized his frustration, stated the facts of business and that we are all doing what we can. When he didn’t want to accept that, I had to enforce my boundaries and state that his comments in front of the customers are not welcome and unacceptable and simply ended the conversation.
Had I been better able to control my own anger, my chances of diffusing anger in my coworker would have increased drastically. I put our company in danger by not immediately removing the situation from a public setting and I put myself in danger of not being successful, respectful, and happy.
Anger is a real danger for all. Find what works best for you to diffuse anger in yourself so that you can calmly represent your best self and your company.