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Creating YOUR Advantage 
 Are you ticking off others around you?
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I've Been Blogging
August, 2008
Are you ticked off at work?
And, what can you do about it?
     Recessionary times are fueling workforce anger, and it's important to know how to handle - and prevent - these frustrations in the workplace.
     While anger in the workplace is nothing new, mounting pressures due to economic uncertainty, corporate downsizing and people working around-the-clock are leading to anxiety and resentment - and an increase in inappropriate workplace behaviors.
     There have been many times in my 20+-year corporate career when I was so angry I couldn't see straight.  There were countless times when I felt slighted, discriminated against, dismissed or simply overlooked.  I handled some of these situations well, and others, not as well.  I've learned from my mistakes - and from watching others' mistakes - and now understand how important it is to handle stress productively. 
     The reality is that we all encounter a variety of workplace issues that upset us.  While it's inevitable that we'll all face some stress in our workplace - business downsizing, budget cuts, looming deadlines and so forth - it's crucial to address any issues before they become overwhelming and lead to anger, frustration and resentment.
     According to Catalyst only 29 percent of today's workplace is happily engaged in their work.  That means another 71 percent is miserable, stressed out and angry.
     People deal with stress and unhappiness in different ways.  Some try to "joke" in hurtful, passive-aggressive ways.  Others yell or scream, causing co-workers to cower in fear or try to avoid interactions with these people altogether.  Some might be short-tempered and abrasive towards others.  Type A's (like me!) might have unrealistic expectations of their colleagues and grow angry and retaliate when these expectations aren't met.
     During stressful times, it's more important than ever to demonstrate effective leadership skills.  One of the key qualities of a good leader is knowing how to "let off steam" in a healthy, productive way.  Effective leaders  find appropriate ways to let out their aggression or relax after a busy day, whether that's going for a run, doing yoga, playing with their kids or pets or even singing along with the car radio at the top of their lungs.
     If your leadership style is rude, aggressive or offensive, it's time to change management styles!    The best leaders motivate and inspire others to achieve great results, especially during tense and challenging times. 
     But, as we've all witnessed in our own careers, some people do not handle stress well.   So what can you do if someone is acting inappropriately towards you?
     First off, don't fuel the anger.  Don't perpetuate it by lashing back.  Instead address the offender in a calm, professional manner.  Simply tell them that their (fill in inappropriate behavior here) made you feel uncomfortable, and ask them to please refrain from this behavior in the future.  It is important to remove all accusatory and emotional language from the discussion. 
     If your anger stems from being overworked, and/or feeling unappreciated, talk to your boss.  Employees have the right to politely push back and discuss realistic workload expectations with their bosses. 
     Effective managers realize that employees can't do their best work if they're overwhelmed.  In addition, they realize that sometimes they need to implement a more widespread corporate change to make their employees feel more valued and appreciated.
     Effective leaders are able to adapt to change and set a positive tone for the entire workplace. This is especially important after a lay-off, when the remaining employees are expected to handle the extra work that results from a reduced workforce.  The remaining employees are often grateful to still have their jobs, and feel obligated to work harder - sometimes around-the clock.  While they're trying to be productive by working harder (and working longer hours), they often become overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, resentful, and prone to mistakes.  They may be working harder, but they've definitely become less productive.
     Establishing realistic expectations regarding workloads and deadlines is an important part of managing stress and workplace anger.  Effective leaders and employees need to have strong negotiation skills and the ability to communicate their needs and their concerns before they become frustrated and angry.

     Laura Lopez is a performance strategist, leadership specialist and branding expert with more than 20 years of corporate leadership experience. Most recently, Laura Lopez was a vice president with The Coca-Cola Company. Laura's book, The Connected and Committed Leader, is available via her Web site at, at your local bookstore or on As the owner of her own business, Laura helps companies and business associations achieve more sustainable business results through the power of leveraging diverse talent with effective leadership and branding. She is available for speeches, workshops and customized programs. Laura can be contacted via her Web site at: 
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All the best,
Laura Lopez
Laura Lopez & Company
(713) 864-4633
toll free outside of Texas 1-800-861-4633