More companies taking anger more seriously

Posted on: August 16, 2007

Employees acting out in frustration by kicking a chair, hitting a computer or yelling at a colleague are not uncommon in the workplace, and more companies are taking action to lessen these types of incidents by offering anger management training. In fact, teaching people how to handle anger without losing control is a growing movement in psychology. “It is an evolution form stress management, which was talked about a lot in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s”, said David Clayman, forensic psychologist and chief clinical officer at Process Strategies, a business consulting firm based in Charleston, W.Va.


The topic even seeped into popular culture last year in the movie” Anger Management”. Anger and stress have become more common in the workplace as a wave of corporate downsizing and the nation’s stumbling economy have left employees feeling insecure, experts say. “We are in a world with increased demands for productivity, an uncertain economy and a society that is more unpredictable – politically, economically and spiritually. And with uncertainty, people feel less secure, less valued and less in control,” Clay said. There are 1.5 million to 2 million non-fatal incidents of anger-related workplace violence each year, said Barry Nixon, executive director of the National Institute for the Prevention of workplace Violence, a consulting and research firm based in Lake Forest, California, that helps companies deal with violence on the job.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 609 workplace homicides in 2002. Key to a program’s success is a willing participant. “People who are angry aren’t anxious to go to an anger manage-management class; they feel it’s a punishment,” say Rosch, who also is a clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College. However, giving someone tools to better handle a situation that causes their temperature to boil is better that ignoring the issue, he said. “Certainly,if you have somebody who is a repeated bully at work, you have to take some action, “Rosch said. “Training defines the workplace values,” said Taranowski of Aon. “I’m not saying eight hours can change a person who has a raving problem of anger, but they can see how to handle it and might get help on their own.” By Nancy Amdur Special to the Chicago Tribune Published March 9, 2004


George Anderson, LCSW, BCD


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