Todd Jerome Jenkins, MS, CSP, SMS, CHST, STSC

Safety Aficionado & Ph.D. Student

Weekly Safety Topic – Anger Management on the Job

Anger is a feeling or emotion that ranges from mild irritation to rage. Anger is a natural response to situations that make us feel threatened or when there is a threat of harm to us or to someone we care about. Anger may also result from frustration when our needs, desires, and goals are not being met. Feeling angry is normal. The problem with anger is that it often leads to impulsive, aggressive, or violent actions. When you do not control your anger on the job, the workplace may become tense. This tension can make working effectively with others more complicated and lead to distractions. All of which can increase the chance of you or your coworkers getting hurt.

Despite the connection between anger and aggression, the two are not the same. Aggression is a behavior that is intended to dominate someone through forceful action. This behavior includes physical or mental abuse, threats, or violent acts. On the other hand, anger is an emotion and does not necessarily lead to aggression. A person can become angry without acting aggressively. Before you become aggressive or uncontrollably angry, stop and consider the consequences of your actions.

Health Effects

Feeling angry all the time can be unhealthy. Anger puts a physical strain on your body. When we get angry, several parts of our nervous system activate. This causes our blood pressure and heart rate to increase. When this happens, they stay elevated for long periods. This stress can lead to health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, and a weakened immune system. Controlling anger can help you avoid these physical effects.

Anger can lead to negative consequences. Uncontrolled anger can lead to physical aggression or violence on the job. Incidents like these can cause injuries and result in disciplinary action, job loss, arrest, and prison. Anger pushes people away. Even when anger doesn’t lead to violence, it can have negative social consequences. Coworkers will likely develop the fear, resentment, or a lack of trust. Very few people want to be around someone who is angry all the time.

Ways to Cope

Find healthy ways to keep anger under control. Reduce the physical aspects of anger with regular exercise, using deep breathing techniques, or learning other relaxation techniques. Address the emotional and psychological aspects by talking with someone. Work through your anger by learning better communication skills, problem-solving skills, and learning how to resolve conflicts. Next time you feel like you are getting angry, take a deep breath for 30 seconds, hold your breath for 30 seconds, exhale for 30 seconds, and then hold your breath for 30 seconds. Repeat this 2-4 times or approximately 5 – 6 minutes. 

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