View Full Version : How do I appropriately express anger and conflict?

02-17-2012, 01:59 AM
Admitedly, I know that I experience anger very intensely and can have a bad temper. I feel like the red hair that runs in the family skipped me and instead I inherited the bad temper that runs in my mom's family. ;-) I am not excusing the times that I have completely lost it, but I do no think that all people experience emotions in the same manner. I feel anxiety but even moreso, anger very intense with a lot of physical symptoms, such as my heart pounding out of my chest, a voice almost quivering with anger, a harsh tone of voice that is very hard to control, trembling hands, throbbing head, and underarm perspiration, and blushing among other symptoms. Obviously, these symptoms prevent me from deaing with the situation at hand in the best way possible, because I literally cannot concentrate and think. I think that my sky high blood pressure and racing heart rate are the factors that most frequently prevent me from dealing with a situation effectively and expressing myself coherently.

I am aware of my problem with anger, and I have tried to deal more effectively with m anger but I haven't been too successful. Most of my moments of anger ocurr at work. At this point, other arenas of my life, besides, work do not frequently cause me anger. I feel like I am only able to not say anything and remain silent, thus stewing in m anger, or I can express my discontent but I my extreme annoyance is apparent in my voice. People can tell that I am hovering on the edge, which isn't my intention. Also, if I do not effectively speak my mind in a coherent way, then the conflict is not resolved or it is not often resolved in my favor.

A good example of a conflict would involve coordinating vacation with coworkers. My expectation is that if I cover for a coworker on a Saturday because they are sick or want to take vacation, I expect them to cover a Saturday for me. This exchange seems fair to me, but I have been taken advantage of before. I find it difficult to calmly state my reasoning. (By the way, the manager who does not manage should really be stating the vacation policy, but that is another story all together.)

I have a policy of never reacting in the moment or really blowing up at work. I never write an email at work while I am angry. I wait unti I cool off to compose an email. I never complain to my manager while angry. However, even after I have cooled off, my anger will resurface when the subject is brought up or even when I calmly try to deal with the situation.

Today, I had a confrontation with a coworker/intern. I kind of bitched her out for a number reasons. I wouldn't say that I crossed the ine and I wouldn't say that it was inappropriate per se, but I don't think that it was neccessarily the best way to deal and communicate with her. Also, I experienced a lot of anxiety thinking about this situation and put a lot of thought into how I would deal with the situation. In the end, my view was communicated to her, but like I said, I would have liked to have done it in a different way.

I think that my problem is twofold. I don't know how to deal wtih conflict well, and I don't deal well with my anger. I really would like to work on these issues but am not sure how.


02-17-2012, 10:07 AM

I often feel anger too, sometimes to the levels you've described. What I've noticed is that my anger levels are higher and feel more disproportionate when I'm dissatisfied with something in my life - that could be work, home, family, money, or love life. That doesn't solve the anger, but it helps me to understand where it might be coming from.

As for dealing with it, I find two things help me sometimes. One, writing it all down. Get a journal or something safe and private, and just write and write and get it all out. I've done that and two days later have looked back at what I wrote and can't believe how less angry I feel afterwards. Two, talk to someone unjudgemental. This is harder, because I think a lot of people are judgemental about anger, so you need to be lucky to have someone who isn't and who will listen, let you talk, maybe offer a word of advice but without negating your feelings. My best friend was that person, but she's off travelling now, so I can't do this as much now. I kind of talk through my anger sometimes with one or two people, but in a much more muted and less 'angry-sounding' way.

I think it's good you recognise that this needs addressing, and it's also good that you take measures such as cooling down before emailing or responding.

02-17-2012, 10:47 AM
I've been accused of getting overly angry and tsking it out on certain people. My best friend does it as well and I am her sounding board (i am good at being non judgemental, however she is not) so the above suggestion is great. I calm her down when she calls and save her embarassment in work situations often. I blow up in personal situations, at work I remain calmer and level headed. The mire I care, the less rational I am. It helps to take a breath and remove your mind from the emotional thoughts that surround the person. Ie...don't make it personal. Usually people aren't trying to piss you off, so it helps to scoff it off and stick to facts about issue and truth is, no one wants to be nice or helpful to a forceful or intimidating person. Anger was prevelant in my house so I get angry although I don't respond favorably to anger and as I get older I see how its interfering in my relationships as people don't like drama and angry people tend to be more dramatic. Easier going people weigh what's important and only make a big deal about the really important issues.

02-17-2012, 05:49 PM
Easier going people weigh what's important and only make a big deal about the really important issues.

I agree that for me I had to not take it personal and I also
had to learn what was really and truly important to me so
that today most things arent a big deal.

A friend asked me what I was angry about five weeks ago
or two months ago and I obviously couldnt remember. It
was a big deal at the time but I had to realize that it wasnt
that important and how important would it be in a year?

I also had to accept that everyone has their opinion and that
doesnt make their opinion right or wrong. I also dont have to
win every situation either.

I agree that writting about it may well point to what it is inside
of you that is making this situation worse.

god bless.

02-17-2012, 11:51 PM
sfl, dq, h,

Thank you for relating your experiences.

As some of you said, I get angry about things that matter to me that I consider important, which fortunately doesn't include too many areas of my life. I don't let the little thins bother me, ie: traffic, having to wait in a line, or trivial things of that nature. I don't usually have significant anger or conflict with my family or friends. I don't boyfriend couldn't get me all riled up unless it was a very significant, committed relationship. Generally, I am a calm level heade person.

However, when I feel that someone is being completely unreasonable despite making my best attempt to clarify reality or my perspective, I become really angry out of frustration. I honestly didn't always realize that some people are irrationale. There truly are people who just do not see reality. An exaggerate example would be people, who if they were owed a dollar, would insist that they were being ripped off if they were to receive four quarters instead of a dollar bill. My standard tactic would be to expain how four quarters is worth a dollar. Explaining a cleary and logically just is not sufficient with some people for whatever reason that I do not entirely understand. A different strategy needs to be employed to deal wtih these tpypes of people.

For example, today at work I addressed the issue of the vacation by replying to an email sent out by the manager, which basically stated that we are not to take vacation on our assigned event days and if we do, we need to see if another staff member to get coverage for that event. I basically sent out an email diplomatically saying that I expect that if a coworker asks me to cover a Saturday event because of illlness or vacation, I expect them to cover a Saturday event for me. I said it in a very PC way, but I felt the need to say it because last summer I was screwed over by having to cover for coworkers on Saturdays a few times, and they never took on a SAturday for me. Not surprisingly, the manager replies to my email with a load of BS but basically says nothing except that we need to work together but she implies that she does not approve of my email and practice.

Any way, this is exactly the type of thing that ENRAGES me. I don't know what to do wtih my anger nor do I know how to resolve the situation, especially because they are personal friends. The manager cannot even state the stupid vacation policy whatever it might be because she renigs on it as soon as it doesn't suit her ever purpose.


02-18-2012, 02:27 AM
It sounds like your anger is ok but you do need to do some work on your tolerance of other people and understand not everyone is going to think the same way you do

02-18-2012, 03:46 AM
I guess with the work situation - you've interpreted the work policy in a particular way. Not an unreasonable way necessarily - but it's just not how it's written.

The policy states that if someone needs a Saturday off - they have to arrange someone else to cover for them. There is no formal reciprocal agreement. There is no policy that says that if you cover for someone - that someone should cover for you.

I agree with your idea that seems like a reasonable thing to do... but it seems as if you've set up an expectation that people will agree with your arrangement. And when they don't - your anger rises.

Do you find that that's when your anger is more likely to bubble over? When you see something as reasonable and understandable - and others don't see it or agree with it?


02-18-2012, 07:14 AM
Something I have found very useful in my life
is the Four Agreements.

The Four Agreements are:
One. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Two. Don't Take Anything Personally.
Three. Don't Make Assumptions.
Four. Always Do Your Best.

Perhaps you are making assumptions that if you
do A then others will respond with B.

Or because you see something your way that
others will also see it that same way.

A dear friend once suggested to me that I stop
making assumptions about them and I had to
admit that I did make assumptions and I was
not necessarily right.

god bless.

02-18-2012, 10:35 AM
I wouldn't assume another person is being irrational, perhaps to them, you are being irrational. Perception is key....the way you perceive the world is based on your own beliefs and the way someone else perceives it is based on theirs. Neither is necessarily right. Perhaps this person was planning on making it up to you another way. If she paid you or gave you tickets to a great event, that would be considered 'equal' in her eyes. If you are going to do something for someone, be sure to explain what you expect in return. Some people do things and expect nothing in return. Perhaps she thought you were being nice because she was in a bind. Getting angry about any situation doesn't change the situation nor does it inspire another person to see it from your perspective...it just serves to rile you up.

02-18-2012, 11:04 AM
In a lot of work places, bitching out a coworker would be considered irrational behavior and would be considered crossing a line. In some places that might even be considered bullying or harassment.

I think it's good that you want to look at how to control your anger better, but it feels to me like you're looking at this as "How can I react better when other people wrong me." That's the wrong way to go about this. I used to look at the world like this, too. I didn't yell at coworkers, but I would take certain things in a way that they were not intended and this did create a lot of problems in my life. Instead, I've learned to look at whether the other person intended to offend me in some way and whether I even have the right to be offended. I've learned to better communicate up front what I need and expect and to clarify things that might be confusing. This means that I'm less likely to take something personally later.

Sure it stinks if you expect that someone will take over for you and they don't, but it's your choice whether to cover for them or not. You don't have the right to expect something that is not part of your workplace policy, assume they'll do the same and then get mad when they don't. If this is important to you, then when you are asked to cover for someone, you say "I might be able to do this Saturday. I don't think that I can work on the thirtieth, though and I'll need someone to cover for me, then. Would you be willing to work that day for me if I work this week for you?"

02-18-2012, 12:22 PM
The issue of the vacation is that IT IS NOT MY CHOICE WHETHER OR NOT I COVER FOR SOMEONE. The manager acts like it is, but when it comes down to it, I am not given a choice. Given these circumstances, I want to exchange Saturdays.

While I agree with what Bellydancer suggested, I have done that in the past, but it has not worked. Thus, I wanted to circumvent me having to work extra Saturdays with my email. The purpose of the email was to clearly state to the entire team the condition under which I would be willing to cover a Saturday, so that this is clear to them should they ask

The one manager just is not reasonable and favors the one employee because she is a personal friend. She doesn't deal with issues directly and doesn't state the vacation policy or any policy clearly. I am remined of the time that the woman assigned us all to different hospital. Her friend wanted one of the hospitals that I was assigned to, but I did not want to switch with her. The manager sent out an all staff email about the schedule and wanted us to confirm our assignments. Predictably, she had reassigned me a different hospital and her friend to my hospital and never communicated this change to me. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and let her know that she must have made a typo. And that is when my coworkers starts trying to persuade me that she really wants that hospital and how she deserves it, blah blah blah. A portion of the people I work with are manipulative and communicate this way. There are really just two people who are like this, but unfortunately they are friends and one of them is a manager, which makes life difficult.

Unfortunately, I understand that life is not fair and equitable. Not all people feel the need to treat others as they would like to be treated. While I have occasionally "bitched" someone out at work, I am not really bitching them out per se, but rather I am concretely sticking to the facts but am persistent and do not accept invalid excuses. For example, when I confronted the interm because she hadn't completed a task she was assigned to a month ago and was starting on other tasks, and I was probably going to end up having to do her work, I asked her why she hadn't done the task. She acted like she didnt know what I was talking about. I told her to check her email. She said "Oh. I didn't read that email reminding her of the task." I asked her why. She said that she can't get her email on her phone so she hasn't beeen checking her email consistently since the beginning of February. She said this while sitting in front of a computer. I told her that she needs to resolve this problem with IS and that every day she comes into work she needs to check her email. I asked her why she hadn't checked her email this day when she had been in the office for four hours. I asked her if she had checked it the previous day, because the email was sent a week ago. She had actually responded to the original email saying that she would do x, y, and z. She said that she hadn't read the email cosely, so she didn't realize she had yes to x, y, and z. Then she said that she thought that I would do the work. I asked her why she thought I would do work that was assigned to her by the manager. Basically, I kept at it and at it until my point was more than driven home that the behavior of not checking her email is not acceptable and that she is responsible for the tasks assigned to her via email. I also made it very clear that she needs to read her email more closely, because people assume that if she says that yes she will do it, then she needs to do the task.

Bascially, the manager of this intern does not manage her. It is not my role to manage her and I do not have authority over her, but when her lack of resonsibility affects me, then I feel the need to let her know that certain behavior is not acceptable.

The primary flaw in my work place is that managers do not manage. With the intern, she needs clear expectations and guideline, but her manager does not give them to her. I work at a university, so I think that the environment is a little bit odd and unstructured. The managers are professors who are manager but most do not have any real interest in managing staff nor do they have managerial skils.

Any way. . . my annoyance is causing me to digress from the real point of this post, which wasn't so much the specific issues but rather how to deal with the feelings that arise from these issues.


02-18-2012, 04:05 PM
Reality...you aren't in charge and sometimes in the workplace you just have to accept it. I know it sucks and I know you think you know how to do it better and when you are managing a department of people, you will have an opportunity (and you will likely have an employee who thinks she knows better). But the situation isn't who knows better and whose managerial style is better, it's about managing your outward anger. Unless these people work for you, then 'bitching' anyone out isn't really your job and you can be seen as bossy and unreasonable for doing so. The situation with the intern could have been handled so that you gave her help instead of reprimanding her. Sometimes others are just learning and need guidance, if you put someone on the defense, they are likely to think "great, I'm an idiot" or "I'm in trouble" or worse turn you out completely and eventually go to the manager and complain that you are overstepping your bounds....instead you have an opportunity to show her how to be successful with positive reinforcement. Plus, if you can act as a mentor, you will be seen as helpful and someone who should be promoted to a manager instead of someone who isn't liked by co-workers. Being a good manager isn't yelling, bitching and constantly pointing out what someone has done wrong without showing them how they can do it right. If you are unhappy with the managers then you can go to the directors and see if that gets you anywhere or quit. But someone thinks those managers are effective and the truth is, they are your superiors. Have you had a review since you've been there? Can you ask your manager for a meeting so you can discuss your concerns in a positive way so you can also show them that you are interested in implementing some of your ideas?

02-18-2012, 04:50 PM
I agree with sflathinker.

It seems that you're still coming at this from a place of feeling like you've been wronged and that others are the ones at fault, without taking responsibility for your own actions and reactions. If your goal is to learn how to appropriately deal with the feelings that arise from these situations, then you need to first take responsibility for how you behave toward others.

02-19-2012, 01:03 AM
I would say that the managers are good professors and researchers, or at least someone has deemed them to be, but I don't think that it occurs to them to really manage. It is the case of a lot of absent minded professors.

Fortunately, my only major problem person is with the one manager who thank the lord in heaven is not my manager. I actually like a lot of things about this woman personally. But I cannot stand her management stype which is to manipulate you into something, which of course, is exasperated by the fact that she favors the interests of her personal friend. I can deal with coworkers but it is much more difficult to deal with manager who is ridiculous.

Fortunately, I get along well with my manager who I actually report to and the problematic manager also reports to her. I wouldn't say that she is ideal or particularly good at managing, but her primary goal is for the study to be a success, which is apparent, and her actions reflect this goal. It doesn't seem like the other manager's primary goal is to have the study be a success. My real manager is very direct, lacking tact, somewhat demanding, and says whatever come to her mind. She just says that whatever comes to mind. She is smart and has a logical mind which is neeed in research. It took me a good six months to get used to her, because she is so anxious and tactless at times. But I adjusted. Maybe we both adjusted.

I have had two performances reviews with my manager, which went well. I got a good bonus, raise and promotion, which is really unusual where I work. I only brought up the most relevant of issues with the other manager, which is that the real manager will tell me to do one thing with the problematic manager present, and when the real manager walks out the door, she would tell me to disregard what her and my manager told me to do and then to do it a different way. I brought up this issues in a less confrontational, vague way so as to avoid angering the problematic manager.

Regardless, I basically like my job and most of the people I work with. If I can get through one more year, then this study will be over, and I will not have to work with the problematic manager. I feel like I am respected and treated well at my current work place, and my manager looks out for my professional development, so I am hesitant to leave. I know that it is important to have a supportive manager who is interested in your professional development. I earned this respect by working very hard and taking on a lot of tasks when I started regardless of what they involved. I don't know if I want to move on when I have worked hard to create something for myself at my current work place.