How to Control Your Temper and Emotions at Work

Many managers and business leaders tend to fall into one of two camps. Either they avoid conflict at all costs, or on the flip side, they’re too quick to let their temper get the best of them at work. Unfortunately, managers who let their anger show in the workplace are sure to quickly lose the respect of their employees.

Think about this idea:

Fear and anxiety cause stress.

Stress leads to brooding, which feeds anger.

To better manage your anger, it’s wise to think about why you are fearful and anxious and to stop the anger cycle before you explode.

A stern red-haired woman plugs her ears to help control her temper and emotions at work

As their leader, it’s your job to set a good example for your team. Because of this, learning how to control anger at work is a crucial skill for any business leader. Here are 3 steps to take when you start to feel out of control in order to calm yourself and react in a logical manner. 

1. Take an Intentional Step Back

Whether you’re dealing with a difficult employee or upset about a rude email, the first thing to do is to take a step back. As tempting as it can be to fire off a response in the heat of the moment, it’s more than likely you’ll say something you regret. Chances are, even a very well-thought-out response will contain more emotion than you should display in the workplace.

The best first step towards controlling your temper at work is to remove yourself from the situation as soon as you feel your temper flare. Step out of the meeting, closeout of the e-mail, or excuse yourself from the conversation. While it might feel awkward to ask for some space, it will be much better in the long run than risking a hasty, instantaneous reply. 

2. Disrupt Your Feelings

Ruminating on how you feel immediately after something sets you off is a recipe for disaster. If you dwell on the situation, you’ll only become more upset. The best thing you can do immediately after stepping away from the situation is to disrupt the feeling by occupying your mind with something else.  It is acceptable to brood for a while about your feelings but consciously set a time limit for yourself. 

Work on another task, talk to a coworker about something unrelated and do whatever you have to in order to disrupt the cycle of anger that you find yourself in. Distracting yourself can serve as a reset that gives you time to calm down and reflect on the situation in a rational manner. Controlling your temper at work will be easier if you spend some time away from the cause.

3. Carefully Think Before You Speak

It might go without saying, but once you’ve collected yourself and had a chance to calm down, you still need to pay close attention to your response. Whether your anger is misdirected or justified, it’s unprofessional for any employee to let anger color their interactions at work, and doubly so if it’s coming from a manager. Most of us know when we are reaching the point of uncontrolled rage.  Listen to your body for breathing changes, tense muscles, or rising body temperature.  When you are close to your trigger point, find a way to back yourself down.  

Don’t forget that your team is watching. Controlling your temper at work is an absolutely necessary aspect of leadership. Once you learn how to control emotions at work, you can model this behavior for those who work under you and influence your office culture for the better. 

Anger in the workplace is almost inevitable, but your reaction when you’re angry is an indication of your management skills. Managing anger at work takes time and patience, but the sooner you start working on yourself the better your leadership can be. If you’re at a loss, a business coach can help you develop these skills and teach you how to control emotions at work.  Another great way to control your temper and emotions under control is to get more sleep, exercise more often, and think about the blessings life has given you.

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Coach Dave 

 

Dave Schoenbeck
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