'How many of you have been angry at least once today?" asked the conductor of an anger-management seminar. According to an article in The New York Times, most of those in the room raised their hands. "The fact is," the seminar leader continued, "people get angry an average of 10 to 14 times a day. But anger is especially endemic to work. If you have a job, you're guaranteed to get angry" ("When Rage Is All the Rage," March 15, 1998).
Up would have gone my hand, had I been in the room and heard that last remark. And I would have respectfully disagreed.
Although some statistics indicate that the number of on-the-job flare-ups has increased in recent years, to hold on to the notion that workplace anger is therefore guaranteed is counterproductive. It leaves one with the impression that any efforts to remain even- tempered at work are, at best, only a band-aid.
Anger-management experts do offer a few common-sense guidelines to minimize work-related anger: don't let it fester; don't look for snubs in what are purely innocent incidents; don't get caught up in other people's gripes; if you start to lose control, take a break.
I would add, pray.
Instead of sitting there fuming over some encounter, why not use the time to listen for God's thoughts, His messages to you? To be sure, they will snuff out the heat of anger and bring calmness, clarity, and healing. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jer. 29:11).
Better still, one can act preemptively to prevent a volatile atmosphere on the job. A good start is to consider that the people we work with - whether it's the person at the desk across from ours or the president of the company - are not what we see on the surface.
If we take it for granted that our co-workers are …