Article: Feel the burn: How to harness anger and frustration in the workplace

Life @ Work

Feel the burn: How to harness anger and frustration in the workplace

What if the key to unlocking your greatest potential was hidden in your fiercest workplace frustrations?
Feel the burn: How to harness anger and frustration in the workplace

If a worker claims they never get angry in the workplace, they are likely being untruthful. We all experience moments of anger or frustration in our day-to-day lives; these feelings are inevitable in an environment where we spend a significant part of our day, face various challenges, and interact with other people who are just as human as we are.

Yes, we get angry. We get disappointed. We get frustrated. And often, we express these feelings in a place where, for many, being "professional" means leaving our emotions at home.

But is it truly detrimental to feel or express anger at work? Here’s a surprising fact for many: a study published by the American Psychological Association claims that anger can be beneficial for achieving goals.

According to the study, anger, compared to a neutral state, led to behaviours that enhanced goal attainment in challenging tasks. For example, when the goal was to solve difficult puzzles, anger resulted in more puzzles being solved correctly; when the goal was to win prizes, anger increased cheating rates and the number of unearned prizes; and when the goal was to perform well in a video game, anger boosted scores in a game involving challenges to be overcome.

Thus, anger in the workplace is not entirely negative. The key is to know how to channel it so that it does not harm us but, conversely, benefits us. What distinguishes successful professionals is their ability to transform these negative emotions into fuel for productivity and innovation.

The transformative power of frustration

Acknowledging negative emotions, such as anger or frustration, is the first step towards managing and harnessing them constructively. Individuals who suppressed their anger at work experienced decreased job satisfaction and performance. Conversely, those who found healthy ways to express and channel their anger demonstrated higher levels of creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Frustration, when viewed as a signal for unmet needs or untapped potential, can also be a powerful motivator. Dr. Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, conducted a study that revealed that employees who viewed frustration as a challenge rather than a roadblock were more likely to develop innovative solutions and enhance their overall job satisfaction.

Transforming anger into creativity and productivity is a process that requires self-awareness and intentional effort.

How to transform anger and frustration into productivity

Recognise and acknowledge. Understanding your emotions is the first step towards transforming them. Take a moment to identify what triggered your anger and reflect on its root cause.

Take a pause. When anger arises, take a short break. Step away from the situation to give yourself some space. This pause allows you to disengage emotionally and approach the issue with a clearer perspective.

Breathe mindfully. Practise deep breathing exercises. Inhale slowly, hold for a few seconds, and exhale gradually. Mindful breathing helps calm the nervous system and provides a moment of clarity amid emotional turmoil.

Channel negative energy through physical activity. Engage in physical activity to release pent-up energy. Whether it's a brisk walk, a quick workout, or a run, physical exercise can help dissipate anger and improve your overall mood.

Express through art. Use creative outlets, such as art or writing, to express your emotions. Transforming anger into a tangible form can be cathartic and may lead to innovative and unexpected ideas.

Set realistic goals. Break down your tasks into smaller, more manageable goals. Accomplishing these goals, even if they are minor, provides a sense of achievement and helps shift your focus from anger to productivity.

Reframe negative thoughts. Challenge negative thoughts and reframe them into positive or constructive ones. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, focus on what you can learn from the situation and how you can improve.

Seek feedback and collaboration. Reach out to colleagues for feedback and collaboration. Sharing your concerns and working together on solutions not only fosters a positive work environment but also turns the focus from anger to collective problem-solving.

Practise gratitude. Cultivate a habit of gratitude. Regularly reflecting on positive aspects of your work and personal life can shift your mindset, making it easier to approach challenges with a more optimistic outlook.

Embrace a learning mindset. View challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Adopting a mindset that values the learning process over immediate success helps in transforming setbacks into stepping stones for future achievements.

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Topics: Life @ Work, #Wellbeing

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