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The New Road Rage: Desk Rage

Tips for melting away workplace anger and frustration


We’ve all heard about “road rage.” But have you heard about the latest dumping ground? “Desk rage.” Well, maybe it’s not really the latest. I wrote a book about violence in the workplace back in 1994. Same disease, just “hipper” name.  

I recently wrote an article called, Do You Work for a Healthy Company? It received quite a few comments, including a large amount of private correspondence regarding anger in the workplace—in local companies you just wouldn’t believe. And names I wouldn’t publish.

What can be done about stress, anger and preventing the build-up of desk rage at work? Of course, healthy communications, organizational siphons or outlets for emotion, healthy organizational structures, flexible work environments, managers trained to deal with stress and not creating in others, and respite to stave off pressure are all important and useful. 

If you are a “type-A,” stress-prone personality, or if you work with one, here are some additional ideas that will melt away some of your unwanted tensions and in turn, the stress of others:

  • The next time you see someone doing a task more slowly than you can, do not interfere.

  • Never interrupt anyone.

  • Read a long novel about a subject far removed from your occupation.

  • Purposely choose to wait in the longest line at the supermarket or toll plaza and use the time to reflect on what you enjoy about your life.

  • Write a letter to an old friend. Don't mention your job. Use a thesaurus at least once.

  • Practice saying "no" to keep from overscheduling your time. Ask yourself whether you'll care about every meeting or engagement in five years. Only attend those you think you'll remember five years from now.

  • Develop an imaginary "internal friend" who sits on your shoulder, observes your behavior, and reminds you to relax, slow down, smile, forgive, and focus on what's really important.

  • Laugh at yourself at least twice a day.

Additional ideas to reduce stress and avoid the build-up of aggression include the following:

·       Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get adequate rest.

·       Analyze your problems.

·       Voice your concerns to HR or your supervisor.  

·       Feel your feelings.

·       Work to accept change as inevitable.

·       Fill your life with things that make you happy.

·       Vary your mental diet.

·       If you are the culprit, get executive coaching.

·       Practice relaxation techniques.

When all else fails, remember, it’s just a job. No job is worth dying for or getting sick over. Change your scenery if necessary, and your job if you must.



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About This Blog

Edit ModulePsychologist Michael Mantell tackles San Diego’s psychological well-being, from reducing stress and anxiety to creating closer bonds with family to the importance of physical fitness.

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