I think at some time or another we’ve ‘lost it’ or experienced someone in a business environment ‘lose it’ and display a degree of anger that just is not on. Displaying anger in your business can literally be deadly.
Let’s look at how business anger is deadly
Imagine if you lose control and scream or swear at a client. Do you think being called a ‘f***wit’ will inspire a client to return to your business? Will your screaming or ranting give customers and clients the confidence to use you or your services? I remember decades ago, my very first job was a ‘checkout chick’ whilst still in school. We were taught “even if the customer is wrong, the customer is always right”. There will absolutely be times when a customer is wrong or does the wrong thing – but does that justify swearing, abusing, yelling or ‘losing it’ with them? Absolutely not. Remember, you represent your business (whether an owner, manager or employee for that matter) so represent your business – whatever it is, in a professional and appropriate way. I’ll go into how to control the anger and manage those frustrations further on in this article. Needless to say, if you are constantly ‘losing it’ and displaying anger with customers, expect your business to slowly but surely die.
Anger could kill you
When you are severely angry, it’s not good for you. I’m not a health professional, but would any doctor say that ‘anger’ is good for you? Would any health professional recommend you be angry, stressed and raise your blood pressure in this way? I witnessed a man getting so angry with someone recently, I was worried about him. His face was getting red, he was practically spitting out the words and yelling and I’m thinking “wow, mate, you’d better settle down or you’ll give yourself a heart attack”.
Word has a way of spreading. If someone has a bad experience, on average they tell 15 people. If they have a great experience, they usually tell only one person. These days, with social media, I think actually that 15 is more like 50. Look at the power of online reviews. It works in the negative as well. If you develop a reputation for having ‘potty mouth’ or having ‘anger management’ issues, then word will spread. Reputation, like perception, is extremely important when it comes to business – so protect your reputation and keep the anger in check and the potty mouth out of the business.
Staff will abandon ship
Staff will not put up with anger and language. In fact, a few things will happen. They either will:
- Just not love their job, and their care factor will drop, as will their productivity
- Think “enough is enough” and go work elsewhere
- Decide to take action and report you to Fair Work Australia or similar.
Poor behaviour with employees just can’t happen anymore. You cannot scream at your staff, yell at them, be rude, demanding or display acts of anger. You have a responsibility to provide a healthy and safe workplace and people displaying anger issues does not constitute that. Let me share with you a statistical fact: it costs 2.5 times a person’s annual salary to replace them. So staff turnover is seriously going to impact on your bottom line. Whether it’s you (or another staff member) anger cannot be tolerated in the workplace.
So what is the solution?
Here are some tips to get you started, but if these strategies don’t work, it might be time to visit a professional – there are psychologists and anger management specialists who can work with you to get this under control. However, for those where it’s just a bit of an issue at times, these strategies might be helpful:
- Think before you speak. Even better, listen before you speak. Hearing someone else’s side and perspective and allowing them to speak first, will also give you time to think, pause and calm down.
- When it comes to writing emails – never email anything negative and absolutely never email or send a note to someone (including social media) when you’re angry or emotional.
- Cool down. If necessary, leave the room, go to the bathroom, go for a walk or take a break. That ‘time out’ may just give you the space to take a few big breaths, count to ten, or do whatever you need to regain composure. Give yourself ‘time out’. Before continuing a discussion, wait until you’ve cooled down.
- Exercise is a wonderful thing if you are seriously angry. That might be a walk, jog, gym session, boxing class, yoga or something else. Attending a meditation class might also work for you. Every person is different so try a few things and identify what helps you deal with anger the most.
- Anything negative (if it’s got to be said) should be said in person. If you legally have to follow up with a written item, then write when you’re cool, calm and collected. Facts only; not the anger or emotion.
- If someone has been angry or negative with you – consider what outcome you would like to achieve from communication with that person. If they’re angry, rather than taking it personally, consider perhaps it’s their problem. Perhaps they have had a bad day – try being a little more tolerant or understanding. Understanding and tolerance will improve the situation.
- Look for a solution. Rather than laying blame, instead look for a solution to the situation. That will be far more productive for all involved and more likely to achieve a positive outcome for all.
- Don’t hold a grudge. Once it’s happened and over – move on. Forget it (or at least forgive it) and not raise that matter over and over again.
- If the person is a customer, it’s far better to be calm, listen to their complaint and then respond that you’re sorry they feel that way. Asking them what they would like or offering to go and investigate the situation will allow both them (and even yourself) to have a breather from the situation. Every situation is different, but rather than sinking to their level, rise above that.
- In business, when someone gets angry, whilst you might be the recipient of it, remember it’s not actually (usually) about you personally. There are often so many other factors involved. Someone complaining about a bill may be, in fact, struggling with their own finances. It can be any number of things; so being tolerant, patient and not taking it personally will help keep your end of things in check and calm.
- Use humour to tone down the situation; whether that ends up being for your benefit or for the other person – it hopefully will help all. Remember, however, that humour should be funny, not satirical or sarcastic.
- Adopt relaxation skills. This might be anything from deep breathing through to a squeeze ball. Try smiling – it’s hard to be angry if you’re smiling. A little like the expression “fake it till you make it”.
- Be positive. If you are grateful for your life, are positive and happy with people it’s hard for you (and others around you) to be angry. Those who are amazing at customer service rarely get abused; it’s incredibly hard to be angry at someone who is super nice and polite.
Anger is not a light topic and not one which should be taken flippantly. If you see yourself, time and time again, being angrier and angrier, more and more often, perhaps it’s time to take a look. Are you feeling particularly stressed? Are you trying to get too much done in your day? Are finances worrying you? It may be that there is an underlying issue. Ideally, work on the underlying problem so that adopting the above strategies becomes obsolete. Remember, if you are struggling, there is nothing wrong with seeking professional and confidential assistance.