Anger Management at Work: The First Step

Apr 14, 2011, Written by Sue Miley

I slammed down the phone, exasperated and almost yelling to myself “He hung up on me!  Who does he think he is?”

He was the Informations Systems Manager for the company I worked for.  He was late, AGAIN, on my project.  I was grilling him on why, and who, and what, got in the way this time.  Once I shifted to telling him that he couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag…or something to that effect…he hung up on me!

I cringe thinking about it even now, over 15 years later.

How could I have lost it like that?  How could I treat someone that way?

I was frustrated beyond belief and the project I was responsible for was in jeopardy.  Does that give me the right to verbally tear someone in two?

Uncontrolled anger is a sign of so many “not good” things and it results in “even worse” results.

I needed some anger management.

Uncontrolled Anger Is A Symptom

But, my anger was just a symptom.  It was a symptom, yes of his incompetency (just kidding), but more importantly of:

  • My obsession with work – an idol in my life for sure.
  • My fear of failure – I would succeed no matter who I had to run over.
  • My need for control –  I felt helpless because I couldn’t control this area.
  • My lack of compassion – I was outraged that he hung up on me, not a bit concerned about the wounds I inflicted on him.
  • My lack of leadership – who would follow someone who treated you that way.

Obviously, I wanted my project prioritized and I wanted all of his team focused on getting what I needed done NOW!  What do you think actually resulted from my outburst?

  • He was so mad he actually left the building – I think he went home.
  • He didn’t prioritize my project until I got our mutual boss involved.
  • He probably hated me until the day he left the company – which wasn’t too long after.
  • Time, attention, and collaboration were strained and formal in completing the project.
  • I had a recurring tape playing in my head for a really long time of this phone scene.

The first ten or so reels of the tape were from a view of I can’t believe this guy.  Soon they turned to embarrassment over my behavior.  Concern for my own lack of control over my emotions.  Fear that he was spreading, gulp…, the truth about me.

It was horrible all around.

It was the antithesis of “treating others the way you want to be treated” , and it moved me as far away from the results I wanted as I could get.

Do Not Sin With Anger

We are told in the bible to not sin with anger.  Just like everything else in the bible, part of the reason for this advice is because it is mean, wrong, and unloving.  The other part is that it doesn’t produce positive results.  It doesn’t work!

God knows what works!

Fortunately with God in my life now, I have conquered this personal problem.

The First Step In Anger Management

But as you know, with all problems, the first step in conquering it is to admit it.

Hi, I am Sue I am a workaholic.

Hi, I am Sue and I fear failure.

Hi, I am Sue and I have Anger issues!

Have you ever had an uncontrolled outburst at work?  Looking at the underlying causes do any of these fit?  What other core issues have you found may result in the symptom of anger?

Reader Interactions


  1. Kimberly says

    I saw old self in this. Great subject because it’s very easy to get upset on things outside of our control

  2. Bradley J. Moore says

    Sue – The four points you admit to as the source of anger are quite insightful. If only we could have the self-awareness to admit these things ahead of time, and prevent those outbursts. But sometimes it takes a “crisis” like this to bring attention to ourselves that something is out of kilter.

    Thanks for sharing a very practical and helpful post.

  3. Brad Harmon @ Marketplace Christianity says

    I brought a board meeting to a screeching halt once after I laid into another executive who thought he was untouchable. The injustice he was allowed to inflict on others around the table went unchecked for too long, and on that particular day I couldn’t sit by and watch him continue to do it.

    I won quite a few at a boys from fellow executives that day, but the owner was none too happy. I usurped his place in delivering my critique to this executive. It wasn’t the appropriate setting, and I wasn’t the appropriate person.

    The issue was resolved with him, and he rarely repeated his past injustices. The cost was a rift between me and the owner who would have likely let the issue continue to go without ever addressing it.

    I would have called the driver of this action frustration, but the root cause was probably unexpressed anger. I’m not sure I will ever forget this day that I lost my cool at work. I’m quite sure he will never forget it.

    Looking back on it now, I would have to admit to failing at all five of your points. Today, I would have realized there were many other better ways to have handled this with him one-on-one that wouldn’t have caused embarrassment to the owner for not handling the issue himself.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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