Express yourself – just don’t scream!

The Boss is a Screamer, from WSJ, Aug 15, 2012

Do you work in a place where bosses and employees flare up and yell at each other when conflicts arise? Or are you in the type of environment where, people bury their frustrations and annoyances in hunched shoulders and gritted teeth, making it through the day with no external altercations? Both can be harmful. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Sue Shellenbarger, the best ways to deal with anger at work is to be honest. Admit your feelings in a setting that is safe for all parties involved, and express yourself with words and body language that shows respect and kindness. Tough to do when you’re upset. Some of Shellenbarger’s tips, with my own embellishments:

1. Stay calm in the first place by keeping the situation in perspective and even before that, taking good care of your body and mind through sleep, exercise, a good diet, and good relationships at home.

2. When #1 fails, as it will at times despite our most conscientious efforts, before responding to a fiery situation, walk away and think about it, which also gives you time to calm down.

3. Once you’re clear about how you feel and what is at the root of the situation for you, sit down with the people involved and tell them the truth – that something they did or said had an impact on you, and that in turn will have/is having an impact on your relationship with them – until you can clear it up.  Be specific, non-blaming, use “I” statements to own that this is your experience (even if it has wider impact on the office).

4. Do #3 in person, rather than email or even phone. Depending on the severity or sensitivity of the situation, you probably will need your whole self engaged.

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About Jaya Koilpillai Bohlmann
Global corporate communication, business, and organization behavior executive; author. My blog, DesigningCommunication, offers inspiration, insight, and tips for all professionals who want to express themselves effectively, and lead with integrity.

One Response to Express yourself – just don’t scream!

  1. Mano Koilpillai says:

    Great advice! When tempers flare in the workplace, the backlash can be widespread and have detrimental effects on the productivity and morale of those staff caught in the crossfire. Learning effective tools to express emotions is a necessity for high-performing teams.


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