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Before you give somebody a piece of your mind, be sure you can
get by with what you have left!
How many times have we flipped through the radio channels on our commute home only to discover through a "late breaking news bulletin" that yet another individual's anger has turned to rage and they are shooting employees and supervisors at their prior place of employment?
No company is immune to previous or current employees who have decided to act on their anger in an unhealthy manner. We live in a high stress, fast paced world with constant demands places on us at work, in our home and in our cars. When any one of these or a combination of this is out of kilter, it may not take much to push an individual from a state of anger to one of rage.
All of us have experienced times of despair. It is only natural that we understand the stress and strain that can push a normally sane person to the edge.
Examples outside of work include divorce, the death of a family member, the life threatening illness of a loved one or excessive financial challenges. Failure to pass probation on a new promotion, the consolidation of a company with numerous layoffs, a new boss, a conflict with a co-worker or one too many irrate customers can push others to their limits
At one time, I had a three freeway, 40 mile commute. It took at least an hour or more to drive in heavy traffic. I often found my temper flaring when I had been stuck behind a stalled car, cut off one too many times, or received the middle finger salute for following the speed limit on a rainy day by some crazed motorist. If I was on my way to work in the morning, it could begin my entire day on a sour note until I put my attitude in check and realized that my job was not the cause of my frustration.
Often we fail to recognize the anger warning signals a coworker or staff member gives. The signs of hidden anger are many and can be displayed in a variety of ways. Does anyone you know at work display any of the following behavior?
Although there are many more symptoms, such as being drowsy at inappropriate times, chronic depression, slow movements, and a stiff neck, the previous behaviors and reactions are easier to observe and note in the work environment.
People who have high levels of stress and conflict in their lives with a minimal amount of coping skills can have the most devastating effect on the work environment and their coworkers. Fortunately, conflict resolution skills can be learned and mastered by all. Here are a few techniques that can help you deal with employees or co-workers whose conflict may escalates into anger.
Respect the individual.
Meet in private.
Establish if you need to remove yourself from the situation immediately. It is important to know when there is a need for an intervention with a trained professional.
So be silent until the individual has expressed all of their feelings. When you do not respond or rebut their comments immediately and appear to be contemplating their comments, they usually run out of steam and stop their verbal tirade sooner
Listen. Listen. Listen again!
Repeat their complaint and feelings in your words. A statement like "I hear you're feeling frustrated because Tom ignored your suggestion," indicates you really have heard their complaint and have helped identify their feelings
Give brief responses.
Do not debate the issue or justify your actions. If you do, you are giving credence to the angry individual and will find yourself sucked into the emotions of the moment.
Ban fault finding
Discover the real problem!
Ask open-ended questions that require thought for answers. Avoid close-ended questions that only require a "yes" or "no" answer. Questions such as " what happened when you didn't receive the order," will provide more information to help you understand the situation. Probing questions like "can you give me a specific example," will help to further clarify the problem.
Solutions also encourage people to be creative, to think out of the box. People tend to be more creative when they know they will not be criticized or blamed for making mistakes.
Find common ground.
If the individual chooses not to respond, do not push it. Give the individual time to think the situation and their feelings through. Expressing their feelings may have been cause for fear in the past.
THE BOTTOM LINE
To defuse anger in the workplace requires learning simple conflict resolutions techniques that virtually anyone can learn.
There is no one clear way to prevent and defuse anger in the work place. Each situation and individual is different. It is important that you know your own limits and when it is necessary to refer the problem to a qualified professional for assistance.
Knowledge of a person's normal job performance and habits will help you recognize when an employee may be preoccupied with a personal challenge that could create undue stress that will come out as anger. Your top priority as you begin the process of defusing a potentially volatile situation is to have respect for the individual and their point of view.
.When you use those two priorities as your guide, coupled with honesty and a willingness to listen, you will succeed in your efforts to discover the real problem and create a positive solution that will satisfy all parties involved.
Copyright, Eileen O. Brownell. All rights reserved.
Eileen Brownell works with organizations that want repeat customers and with people who want to provide outstanding service. Her keynote address The Magic of Making a Difference: The Secrets of Star-Quality Performers has inspired many to great achievements. Eileen also provides seminars on customer service, communications, conflict resolution and team building. Visit her site or phone her at 888-324-6100 , or email: Trainstars@aol.com