You have heard about road rage. Now, its time to face desk rage, as stress problems in the office boil over and cause abusive and violent behaviour. According to a recent REUTERS article, workplace violence is on the rise. And to find the reason why, one need look no further than the world economy. Job cutbacks, home foreclosures and high food and fuel prices are putting a strain on families. Unfortunately, that strain is not staying in the home. It’s traveling to work with many employees right into the office.
Desk rage is a sign of stress: on-the-job anger that increasingly is triggered by the pressures and tensions of the workplace. Furthermore, electronic devices like laptops, PDAs, mobile phones, and e-mail have created an ever-widening gap between the amount of information people are expected to keep up with and the amount they can reasonably process, and this adds on to the stress. No one is spared, including doctors, as in the case of a cardiac surgeon who was sued by his staff for ‘workplace bullying’.
Anger in the workplace – employees who are grumpy, cynical, hostile, short-tempered or insulting – may lead to extreme abusive behaviour, as seen in this video:
Are you stressed and at risk of a ‘burnout’? Take this quick test taken from MSNBC website. Click here.
So what can you do if you are put in a situation with a boss or a colleague who’s ranting and raving at you? Here are some pointers:
1. Do not react. Count to 10, take a few deep breaths and tell yourself the rage is about him, not you. Note your own emotion but do not let it control you. So, keep cool, calm and collected.
2. Listen and keep listening till he’s finished, before you talk.
3. Seek to understand the situation and provide empathy. There is a difference between undertanding and agreeing.
4. If that doesn’t work, you can quote Harry Truman, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”. But be prepared to be shown the door if its your boss… 😦