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Anger Management In Action: In Trouble at Work?


Leroy’s Story
Leroy was a superstar in the Real Estate business, producing three times the monthly business of his nearest coworker. He was a driven, highly competitive young man who saw his manager as getting in the way of even higher production.

Tension turned to irritability. Yelling and shouting followed. On the day he was fired, he shoved his manager in front of alarmed coworkers who reported his behavior to HR. Anger management classes were required, along with a one month interim, before reinstatement would be considered.

As this case example illustrates, workplace anger is costly to the employee, the company, and coworkers. Studies show that up to 42% of employee time is spent engaging in or trying to resolve conflict. This results in wasted employee time, mistakes, stress, lower morale, hampered performance, and reduced profits and or service.

Clearly, poorly handled anger, frustration and resentment sabotage business productivity. Was Leroy justified in his anger? What skills should he learn to prevent future episodes?

Skill 1 – Anger Management
Using anger management skills, Leroy can clearly learn to control his behavior and communicate needs in a socially acceptable manner without disruptions to work and morale. The issue here is not if he was justified in being angry; it is how to best deal with normal angry feelings. A key ingredient to managing anger is learning to change “self-talk”- that inner dialog that creates or intensifies angry feelings. At work, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, but you don’t have to explode over it or be mean spirited in the process. Leaning new self-talk when things go wrong or others don’t do what you think they should can go a long way toward controlling that temper. Click here for a humorous example of how self-talk can change your life.

Skill 2 – Stress management
Leroy was clearly under a great deal of stress, much of which was self-imposed. Stress often triggers anger responses. Managing stress can help prevent anger outbursts, as well as reducing employee “burnout” and hampered performance. Effective stress-reduction strategies include learning breathing techniques, adjusting expectations, improving time-management, and finding a way to mentally adjust your mind-view and self-talk so that stressors loose their power to stress you out. Other effective stress-reduction techniques include watching your nutrition, getting proper sleep, and taking care of your body through exercise.

Skill 3 – Emotional Intelligence
Popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman, much research shows that increasing “EQ” is correlated with emotional control and increased workplace effectiveness.

What is “EQ” exactly? According to Goleman, it is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Fortunately, skills to improve your emotional intelligence can be learned. The critical EQ skills ones are empathy and social awareness. Empathy is the ability to see the world from the viewpoint of the other person. Lack of empathy is at the root of much anger and conflict because inability to see things from other points of view causes communication problems and frustration. It also causes employees, co-workers and managers to sense a lack of caring or concern for their well-being which is de-motivating in the workplace.

Social awareness is the people-skill of being sensitive to how we are coming across to others in the workplace. Many people are referred to anger management programs because they are seen by others as hostile, insensitive, or perhaps even degrading toward others. Persons with high EQ are constantly monitoring their own behavior as well as feedback from others as to how they are being seen by others. They then are flexible enough to modify their approach to get a different result, if needed.

Skill 4 – Assertive Communication
Communication problems frequently lead to misunderstandings, conflicts with coworkers and hurt feelings which may hamper concentration and work performance.

Assertiveness is not aggression, but a way to communicate so that others clearly understand your needs, concerns, and feelings. It starts with the familiar advice to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements which can sound accusatory, and may lead to defensiveness instead of cooperation.

Other communication improvements include acknowledging the concerns and feelings of others in your interaction with them, and being more sensitive to what others are saying to you “beneath the surface.”

Skill 5 –Adjusting Expectations
Anger is often caused in the workplace by a discrepancy between what we expect and what actually happens. Sometimes the problem is simply that your expectations are too high of yourself or others; or you have the wrong expectations to begin with. If you are frustrated with employees, remember that if they knew what you know, or they had the dedication you have, guess what? They would be doing what you are doing. Frustrated with co-workers? Try viewing them in a different light so that you can accept them they way they are, if there is no realistic way of changing things.


Dealing with anger over job loss

I have been receiving calls lately from people experiencing a great deal of anger over recent job loss due to the deteriorating economy in the United States. They are asking how they should deal their angry feelings and what advice I might have to help them cope with what is usually experienced as very scary and traumatic event, especially if others might also suffer such as family members.

The first piece of of advice is to think carefully about how you are going to cope with the situation in your head.  Any stress, including unemployment, can be interpreted or explained to yourself and others in a variety of ways. What you tell yourself (self talk) can have a drastic affect on your emotions. Tell yourself some things and you will dial up your anger; tell yourself other things about why this happened and you can dial down your anger.

People who deal better with job loss tell themselves things like (1) Don’t take it personally- thousands of people have been layed off in the current economy, (2) Anger is not the right response to this situation – it will not solve anything except make me and others around me miserable, and  (3) I will survive this and it need not affect my whole life ,(4) It will not last forever, (5) This might be an opportunity to develop or find an even better job, business or employment opportunity. Write these and other self-talk statements on a card, if you need to, and read them to yourself throughout the day.

In addition to working on your thought skills, develop a daily life structure to help you find another job, or develop resources to actually improve your employability. Action often helps to reduce anger and action feels much better than sitting around “stewing” about the situation. Resentment is an emotion that doesn’t move you forward in life.  Instead, make a plan to work finding work. Think of other skills you might have that you could transfer in your job search, instead of just the ones that were needed in your last job. Lastly, start networking with others and getting the word out that you need a job. Many new jobs are found by someone knowing someone who knows someone.






Workplace anger – how to deal with changing standards

Bill sat in anger management class and lamented how the world had changed. He was an oil man with 30 years experience, but was in deep trouble with his employer because he yelled at employees. Asked why, he said “because they don’t work or they don’t do it right.” He continued, “I feel like a dinosaur in my job- the way I talk to employees for thirty years doesn’t work anymore.”

He is right. Standards of behavior have change drastically in the workplace regarding anger and how to express it. People are much more sensitive to how they are being treated. Many supervisors or managers are getting into trouble, even though they are just doing what they have always done, and talking to “lazy” or “incompentent” employees like they always have.

The answer is to be more sensitive to how employees and co-workers are perceiving your behavior. That is the key. For instance, what you see as simply talking loudly so they can hear you may be seen as yelling at them. Trying to correct their work behavior my be seen by them as harrassment, if not done correctly.

As we explained to Bill, the effective supervisor learns to communicate in ways that are not seen by employees or co-workers as disrespectful, demeaning, or motivated by personal dislike for the person. Often this means doing what you have to do as a manager, but not appearing angry about it.

Being more aware of how you are being seen by others can go a long way toward making you more effective, increasing productivity in employees, and saving you from disciplinary actions.

Federal Employees need Anger Management Too Sometimes

I recently received a referral from an employee for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS employees often face very stressful situations, depending on their job function and can find learning skills in anger management to be extremely helpful. Homeland security is one of our nations top priorities and therefore can be an equation for stress for those that are in high demand positions. The employee who we are currently seeing for executive coaching will be taught a series of tools from our highly acclaimed client workbook “Anger Management in the Twenty-first Century”. We will focus on improving empathy and emotional intelligence, stress management, assertive communication and managing expectations. Anger management skills improve relationships and sharpen ones ability to have more positive interactions.

Posted with permission from
Ari Novick, Ph.D.
AJ Novick Group – Anger Management

Anger At Work

Anger at Work
by Lynette Hoy
I don’t really know where to begin…

I’m 22. I work at a daycare, and each day I take care of between 6-10 children from age of 7 mo. – 1 year 4 mo. It is stressful. The kids cry non stop. I am always running around like my head is cut off, my boss is very bad at what she does, and the place is always understaffed.
Not to mention my co teacher in the room complains 24/7 not only about the workplace but her life in general.

I seriously, have lost it. I have serious anger issues. I get angry at the littlest things. I know that 99%… I probably have depression

I have extremely HUGE anxiety and stress.
Last week two days in a row I went home and looked in the mirror, and there were hives all over my chest. and on my neck.

I can’t quit my job because I need money big time, another stressful part of my life. I’m trying to find a new job…
My point is I am afraid that I take my anger out on the kids. at certain points all I see myself doing is yelling. I Can’t take the crying anymore. I can’t take my co teacher complaining ALL DAY about the same stuff every day.

I guess its a venting I dunno… any advice on how to calm down? How not to be so mad at work. I love my kids. I don’t want to take my anger out on em. (I would NEVER hit them, I just get cranky with them).
I have issues with my boyfriend too which causes me unbelieveable anxious stress….
Any advice? thank you in advance. Signed, Anonymous

Answer: Dear Friend, you need a new job. In the meantime – until you find or train for other jobs – I suggest you make a plan to defuse your anger this way:

1. Take a time-out as suggested whenever you can. Remove yourself – even for a few minutes – to calm down. Do some deep breathing.

2. Start changing your self-talk Write out recent scenarios and what you said to yourself which may have caused you to become more provoked with anger. Change your self-talk to incoporate phrases like this:
“I don’t need to let this minor issue upset me.”
“This person isn’t capable of dealing with their problems. Maybe he/she is just having a bad day.”
“Take a deep breath. Don’t let this – crying, demanding, event-trouble you. You have more important concerns than this.”
“I can cope with this. I can try to manage this situation.”
“What will this issue matter to me in a week or so?”.
Some people find prayer a helpful intervention as well.

3. Get support If a situation gets so bad – you need to ask a co-worker or your supervisor for help. Or maybe you need to ask for a change of patients/students. Get a counseling evaluation for your depression.

4. Stress management Make sure you have time to wind-down after work. Get some evercise and take time to meditate or pray. Cut down on the stress in the rest of your life. You have more control over the stressful challenges you face personally than you do at work.

Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC

Posted with permission by 

Increase in Family Business Anger Noted

Getting along with each other in a family business is no small feat. We have noticed a definite increase in referrals for anger and stress management in smaller family-owned businesses, especially second generation ones, or first generation businesses that are in the process of succession.

The on-the-job outbursts can range from  irritating to deadly. One recent referral for consultation involved an adult son who tried to murder his older brother on the job. Both worked as senior managers at a company owned by the parents who were about to retire.

The solution to family anger on the job may involve anger management classes or individual treatment for specific family members to teach them how to deal with feelings, issues and emotions that may have been there since childhood, but now emerge in the workplace setting.
In other cases, the answer is to have an in-house training program to teach all family members how to communicate more effectively with each other, and better deal with stressors that are unique to family businesses.

Startlines can reduce stress

From “Stress Tips” newsletter

Forget about deadlines. How about startlines?

For a society so obsessed with when a project gets finished,we’re curiously all too casual about when to get it started.

And that can be the most critical factor of all. Which may explain why so many deadlines aren’t met. Instead of stressing over when something is due, focus on getting it underway. Set a “startline.” That is,a time before which it’s essential you get a project started,so it isn’t performed in a rushed and slapdash manner.

If you stick to your startline, it not only assures efficient, unhurried performance, it all but eliminates the need for a deadline…and the anxiety that goes with it.

Which “line” would you rather work under? Get it started. Why make yourself crazy?

Anger Detection Software Now Available

Often, anger is communicated in non-verbal behaviors such as voice tone, voice energy, and voice volume. Now, they have developed software to detect the emotion of anger by analyzing one’s voice.

Reminds one of the computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2110: a Space Odyssey

As reported in, Sigard, a new software package developed by Sound Intelligence, can detect verbal aggression with a high level of accuracy.

Combined with closed circuit television systems, Sigard can quickly notify security personnel about loud, angry people in outdoor public spaces, public transportation, nightclubs and bars.

Here’s how it works. A single analysis computer accepts sensor input from a variety of locations. Once the software detects a verbally aggressive human voice, it activates the camera associated with that sensor, bringing it to a security guard’s attention. This helps cut down on the number of people needed to monitor CCTVs.

Sigard Sound Intelligence software imitates the way that humans deal with sound, splitting it into different frequencies with varying amounts of energy. Just as a person can immediately detect anger and aggression in the midst of background noise, Sound Intelligence software “listens” for the same parameters that humans use in detecting aggressive speech.

Anger At Work Linked To Stress

Some people say they know just what to do when their jobs becoming too stressful, but others feel stuck and frustrated. There are tears and confrontations which can lead to poor productivity, abuse of sick days, stealing supplies, and irritability or depression.

Sometimes the stress and anger are due to home problems which the employee brings with them to work. In other cases, it is the work setting itself which is causing the problem. Too much workload, perceived lack of recognition or appreciation by management, and conflict with co-workers or supervisors are often involved.

For more information on tools to deal with workplace stress and anger (sometimes called “desk rage”), click here.

Road Rage to Work Sets Negative Tone For Day

A new survey puiblished by confirms what we have suspected for a long time: most commuters admit to experiencing road rage while traveling to and from work.

This may include yelling, horn-honking, and hand gestures which give your estimation of the IQ of the other driver!

The survey, based on more than 2200 workers from June 6th-June 16th, 2006, showed that 59% of workers said they had road rage during their commute.

This frustration and anger obviously sets a negative tone for the work day and causes 20% of workers to say that they would take a job with a pay cut in exchange for a shorter distance between their home and their workplace.

Rather than arriving at your workplace upset and stessed, try the following tactics to reduce your angry feelings:

1. Give yourself more commute time. Leaving 15 minutes earlier can save a lot of stress.

2. Ignore bad drivers on the road. You may become upset because of your expectations of the drivers – try to accept that some people are just bad, rude, or inconsiderate drivers.

3. Don’t take bad driving by others personally. It has nothing to do with you as a person.

4. Try to shift your attention elsewhere. Listen to music or to talk radio.