3 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Get Mad at Work

Aug 29, 2012 -
Anger is a natural human reaction to a number of situations: confusion, pain, Reply-All abusers...But what do you do when those quick, overwhelming flashes of rage strike at work and you can't get to the gym to work it out? Do you reach across the table and slash through the conference call power line with your Wolverine claws? You might want to, but no. You ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I hungry?

Close your eyes and do a quick assessment. When did you eat last? In the majority of cases, office rage is a case of the munchies gone awry. If you find that you suspiciously start to send passive-aggressive email replies around the same time each day, invest in some nuts and granola bars to keep at your desk. Hunger makes a tyrant (and a less patient person) of us all.

2. Am I mad at someone or something else?

You spend the morning getting chewed out, so around 2 p.m. when your assistant interrupts your web surfing to bring you the meeting notes and they aren't double-spaced, you are almost overwhelmingly angry at her. Take a minute. Are you really mad the notes aren’t double-spaced? Or are you mad at what happened this morning and looking for an opportunity to let it all out on someone? Slow your roll and reconsider the innocent bystander. And if you are indeed genuinely mad....

3. How would a classy person act right now?

Because sometimes you have every right to be pissed off, angry, enraged and all the other words that describe righteous indignation. But rarely is it appropriate for you to express that anger. Think of the classiest person you can (Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock, anyone?) and imagine how they would respond. Would they yell at someone? Or would they keep it calm and try to be helpful even when they know they're right? Would they loudly point out someone's errors? Or would they take the time to speak with the person politely (and privately)? After all, this is what role models are for—they show us the way when we don't want to leave it it up to our instincts. If you can't manage to summon the “classy” mantra, it might be time to look for a new job. With any luck, this checklist will spare you from experiencing the real-world consequences of anger, which could include embarrassing yourself at work. Because if you can make it home after a frustrating day at the office without clawing somebody’s eyes out, then you can consider yourself a winner. Sarah Greesonbach is a Content Management Specialist with a lot on the backburner (if you count LOLCats and Words with Friends). She curates and write the lifestyle and personal finance blog Life [Comma] Etc and is studying to be an Accredited Personal Financial Counselor.