So why does anger matter?
Anger matters as when it is not managed well it causes chaos in its path with both people and outcomes, as well as ‘burning’ the angry person themselves.
Anger leads to conflict, stress and poor results in every way.
The leadership strategy of dealing with anger well works best when it is all about management not control of anger. If you seek to control the anger it will simply ‘burn’ you up from within.
Why is anger there?
A useful start is to explore the root cause of why you are feeling this way. Anger is often called a secondary emotion as it nearly always follows another emotion which is the true root cause. Fear is the most common trigger emotion here. This means the anger follows as a type of protection for your fear even though it’s not a useful one!
Anger whether it be mild frustration/irritation to full on rage is always like any emotion - it’s there for a reason. When we seek to explore and understand it then it loses the power to control us.
Anger in the workplace
Anger in the workplace is often due to conflict. Conflict is an interesting area for both people and organisations as it has such a wide impact in several ways. There are key reasons why conflict is always likely:
Emotions - We as humans are essentially emotional beings and therefore we will (whether we acknowledge it or not) have an emotional response to any given situation. This means conflict can happen as everyone’s emotional response is different.
Logic - You then look at the rational brain and of course everyone’s experience, skills and knowledge are different so they will then have a different perspective and judgements from others which again can lead to conflict.
The common held leadership view is that conflict is a negative thing. Although in fact it is a normal occurrence as we are all individual beings with different perspectives, whether we are at home or in the workplace.
Managing conflict in the workplace
Conflict can often be a positive thing when used to gain better results for everyone. If there is no conflict, then people aren’t dealing with issues that automatically arise from being individuals.
The real issue is when conflict is not acknowledged or managed positively or when it is personally intended to cause hurt. This is when the negative impacts occur. For individuals, this can cause serious health and wellbeing issues and for organisations, it can cost business, relationships and long-term success.
A great awareness of your own leadership style and strengths is the first stage in improving conflict. The next stage of leadership here is being aware of the hot spots and therefore understanding the source. With both those insights choosing the right leadership tools to gain resolution becomes a lot easier.
Conflict hot spots in the workplace
The most common areas we see are:
We all have very different personality types and these can simply mean people can’t naturally get along well. When further issues are added such as workplace deadlines, this natural barrier can become intense. A survey conducted by Forbes in 2015 demonstrated a nearly unanimous response that personality clashes were the number one reason for workplace disharmony.
An investment in leadership training and awareness in the areas of personality profiling, team design and emotional intelligence will help prevent and manage costly challenges here.
Bringing personal problems to work
Work is only one part of a person’s life. Any challenges outside of this can make work life difficult to virtually impossible for many people. Stress is something that costs millions in lost days and output for business and can cost individuals their health.
An investment in resilience training, awareness and support systems can help protect against this risk. More resilient employees means better performance overall for any business.
We all have positive or negative bias towards other people whether we recognise it or not. Our bias focus can range from all areas including religion, age, ethnicity, gender, disability, capability, background to education.
Some biases are clearly protected by law whilst others are less obvious. All bias means conflict is possible with this type of conflict being of a very sensitive and difficult nature to resolve.
A zero-tolerance atmosphere to biased behaviour plus bias/unconscious bias training alongside protocols are the best foundation to avoid conflict in this area. An investment in unconscious bias training plus awareness is very helpful here. Assertiveness training can also have value so people feel more confident and less aggressive when sharing different perspectives.
Any action, opportunities or workloads seen as unfair will quickly breed a very toxic atmosphere where conflict is likely to flourish.
Openness especially to feedback, transparency, clear protocols, sensitivity and great communication skills are needed here in all leaders. Mentoring can be a helpful tool here where it is set up as open to all.
All businesses have to change in some way for both factors that are within their control as well as any external influences. This change can leave people feeling disengaged and threatened. Some examples are job security, restructuring and IT changes. The feelings here can trigger conflict very easily.
Openness, engagement, timing, support, training and explanation are all critical here. Leaders will get the best results by focussing on a positive outlook and highlighting the reasons for change, as any change can be stressful which is another trigger for conflict in itself.
Three golden rules for any conflict
1. Set boundaries - Everyone deserves to be treated with respect — even during a conflict and it’s ok for someone to have a different opinion to you.
2. Truly listen – This is to: Find the Real Issue. Typically, arguments happen when one individual’s needs are not being met. These needs are often not clear unless you really listen.
3. Compromise when possible – This looks like considering everything. If you can take a neutral viewpoint then it’s easier to think through all perspectives and possible solutions.
Wishing you a happy and harmonious time ahead! 😊