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CHAPTER 5 Focus on the Source

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5. Focus on the Source

While people may differ in the specifics of what makes them angry, the causes usually have one common denominator: interpersonal dynamics—relationships between and among people. Every person has a basic need to value him- or herself and to feel valued by others. Yet when people’s self-esteem is threatened, they’re reluctant to admit it, even to themselves.

Some leading psychologists argue that anger is driven by primary emotions that attack self-esteem; these include feelings of betrayal, disapproval, deprivation, exploitation, frustration, humiliation, manipulation, restriction, and threat. Such emotions can be traced to any of a wide range of causes, from broad contextual circumstances to highly personal impulses. We may categorize the causes into five troublesome areas:

1. Anger at the system

2. Perceived inequity

3. Blocked goals

4. Divergent values

5. Unequal power relations

1. Anger at the System

Today many factors beyond our control create a broad context more likely to produce anger. In our highly interdependent and interconnected global economy, events halfway around the world can come knocking on our door and make us feel threatened and insecure.

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CHAPTER 7 Dealing With the Angry Individual

Donald Gibson HRD Press PDF

Managing Anger in the Workplace

the person tend to listen? Does the person have a track record of responding well to feedback?

2. Your relationship with the individual. Do you have some kind of rapport with the person? Is the person in a position of authority over you

(boss, customer)? Are you in a position of authority over the other person (subordinate, vendor)? Is the person a peer?

3. The nature of the angry expression. Has the individual over-expressed his or her anger?

Under-expressed it? Very effectively and appropriately expressed it?

4. The gravity of the anger. Is the person mildly irritated, furious, or somewhere in between?

5. The underlying cause. Can the cause be addressed easily? Is the cause beyond easy remedy? Can the cause be addressed at least partially? Is the cause beyond remedy entirely?

6. Your particular style. Are you outgoing?

Introverted? Direct? Indirect? Confrontational?


In the workplace, you interact with many people: customers, vendors, peers, subordinates, and bosses. Any of them can become angry for any number of reasons, and it is not always your responsibility to become directly involved with that anger. Sometimes it’s best

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CHAPTER 1 Anger in the Workplace

Donald Gibson HRD Press PDF

Managing Anger in the Workplace

The next thing Mary knew, she was handing a state trooper her license and registration. “I’m sorry, officer,” she said, “I’m just in a big hurry. I’m running late.” He was unimpressed. “Everyone here would like to drive in the breakdown lane. But I suppose you’re special, right?” Mary said nothing. After an agonizing five-minute wait, the officer handed back her license and registration, along with a fifty-dollar ticket.

Now Mary was really late. So late, in fact, that the lot where she usually parked was full. By the time she found a parking spot, hiked the extra distance to her building, and made it to her office, she was in no mood for the nasty-toned voice mail her boss had left for her.

“Mary, where are you?” he wanted to know. “It’s ninethirty. I’d better hear from you by ten o’clock!” She took a deep breath and headed for the ladies’ room to collect herself before dealing with the rest of her day.

On her way out the office door, John, her assistant, came walking swiftly in her direction. “Mary,” he said,

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CHAPTER 6Dealing WithYour Own Anger

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6. Dealing With Your Own Anger

Anger is one of the most difficult emotions to explore, so congratulations on completing the self-assessment.

Perhaps you’re one small step closer now to understanding your own anger.

If you think that you have problems with chronic anger—if you have repeatedly harmed others directly or indirectly with your anger or if others have observed that you have a violent temper—you should consider the help of a psychotherapist. However, even with the assistance of a professional (or someone whom you trust deeply and who knows you well), ultimately it is you who must evaluate and address your anger. Many people go through their entire lives without ever examining their deep feelings rigorously and honestly.

All of us need to do this, though.

Six-Step Process for Managing

Your Anger

Once you’ve grappled with your feelings, the next challenge is managing your anger by following these steps:

1. Avoid anger.

2. Calm yourself physically.

3. Think logically.

4. Express your feelings appropriately and effectively.

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CHAPTER 2 The Costs of Anger in the Workplace

Donald Gibson HRD Press PDF

Managing Anger in the Workplace

revenge may be obvious. But not so the more subtle costs of anger: personal damage ranging from diminished career prospects to diminished health; workgroup damage ranging from lost work time to lost innovation; and organizational damage ranging from increased absenteeism to increased turnover. While it is difficult to calculate the monetary value of direct and indirect costs to individuals and organizations, we can enumerate some of the leading costly impacts of poorly managed anger.

Impact on the Angry Person

It was once thought that venting anger was healthier than holding it in. Today most findings indicate that angry people suffer negative effects whether they vent their feelings or not. Anger in the individual causes strong emotional and physical responses resulting in impaired cognitive and physical functioning. Poorly managed anger, then, can damage your career, and if the anger is chronic, it can result in long-term health problems.

Here are the specifics:

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