While I was working part-time, I helped Finds’ friend, Dr. Andrea Brandt, develop a workshop for employee wellness programs called, Mindful Anger: Keys to Emotional Freedom for Success at Work. This workshop is based on her books Mindful Anger and 8 Keys to Managing Passive-Aggressive Behavior (review). The Mindful Anger book has so many exercises that are easily translated into mindfulness, communication and conflict resolution exercises to help people to be more effective at work or anywhere for that matter. Andrea wrote a great blog post for her Psychology Today blog called “Don’t Let Anger Wreck Your Career” with one of the exercises we adapted.
Here is the post:
“From insecurity and helplessness to procrastination and wanting to give up, anger can make your work-life a struggle. This may come as a surprise, but anger can also benefit you at work. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion; it can sharpen your focus, make you feel more confident, motivate change, and stimulate your creativity and productivity. Before you can channel your anger to benefit you, though, you have to first learn how to not let it boil over.”
As soon as you pick it up, you notice how stirred up the flakes inside become. When you set the globe down, you can observe it settle. When you take notice and examine your thoughts and feelings, they appear to be swirling around much like the snowflakes. To clearly recognize what’s happening in your own mind, you have to allow things to settle, and in order to make your own mind settle, you have to learn how to be still yourself.
You can use mindfulness to better understand those swirling emotions and help you reduce or eliminate conflict with others at work. After all, relationships with your co-workers and supervisors are the central part of your work-life. By using mindfulness, you can learn how to handle your anger while you’re sitting at your desk.
So what is mindfulness? When you are mindful, you are intentionally focusing on yourself in the present. The goal is to learn to live in the moment without distraction or preoccupation. Everyday you’re at work you’re presented with many challenges to mindfulness. There are constant distractions, office politics to contend with, and daily stressors. (How many of us check Facebook or LinkedIn while at work?)
Let’s imagine a scenario: Your boss approaches your desk with a serious look on his face. He explains to you that he was unhappy with your last report and he’d like you to re-do it. You’d spent hours on that report and thought you’d be praised for it. Now you feel like you want to explode, or cry.
Before you let anger become a force of destruction, before you emanate negative energy that everyone in your vicinity can feel or withdraw from others and sulk, try using this exercise to calm your mind:
- Sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. Try closing your eyes if it helps you achieve an inner quiet more quickly.
- Switch your attention from thoughts of the past or future to an awareness of the present. If your eyes were closed, open them now.
- Begin looking around, noticing the sights and sounds of your environment. Observe the details; try naming everything you see in the room: copy machine, desktop computer, potted plant.
- If any thoughts that are not about the present pop up in your head, just say the word wandering to yourself and go back to breathing. Acknowledge thoughts but don’t engage with them, let them pass and shift your focus back to your environment.
- Contentedly take in all of the details of the moment. Breathe and relax.
- After a few minutes, move on with your day.
This simple exercise can help you wash away the frustration and stress and hurt feelings that you experience while at the office. Remember, to rid yourself of toxic feelings, you must not let your anger control you. You can master your anger by settling your mind. When you do this, you can move forward positively and learn how to use anger to benefit rather than wreck your career.”
Check out my review of Andrea’s great book on eliminating passive aggressive behavior. I will be reviewing her new book on Mindful Anger soon, too. Both books have great tips and exercises on how to communicate more effectively, how to manage conflicts and how to use your feelings to your benefit. She uses clear examples and gives actionable advice. Super helpful!
How do you deal with anger (or other tough feelings) at work? Give this exercise a try and let me know how it goes!
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