Anger Management In The Workplace

‘Rage rooms’ are all a trendy approach to relieving frustrations in a very quick, direct, and gratifying way. But can recreational destruction yield lasting benefits – or will it only serve to fuel anger at work?

Frustration.

We’ve all been there. You have a terrible day at work. You get stuck sitting beside a screaming toddler on a two-hour flight. You get cut off on the freeway narrowly avoiding a collision. You feel the pressure building; you consider throwing your mug against the wall in frustration. 

That feeling, the immediate desire to smash things, has grown into a unique business: Rage Rooms and Smash Shops. For a small fee ranging from $20 for 15 minutes and 30 items to smash, to $85 for a more individualized experience – you can expel all your pent-up frustration and feeling of helplessness by breaking things. And business is booming, or if you’ll pardon the pun, smashing.

Recreational Destruction

It’s a simple concept. Vent the anger and rage you feel resulting from a stressful situation, like being fired or experiencing a problematic culmination of a business relationship, in a safe atmosphere. Some of the businesses have high-definition cameras in their rage rooms and offer photos or video of your smash-action as a keepsake. Some are audio-equipped offering you the chance to destroy things to music. While still others provide an opportunity to write personal messages or draw images on the items you are about to break, for an enhanced effect.

Therapeutic Effect? Or Anger Reinforcement

While great minds like Freud and Aristotle held the shared perspective that the controlled expression of hostility could provide a cathartic effect, contemporary studies offer a differing point of view.

University of Arkansas Professor of Psychology, Jeffrey Lohr, coauthored a 2008 study directly challenging the Freud and Aristotle’s philosophies.

Professor Lohr’s paper, argued that not only is the clinical support of the ‘venting is good for you’ philosophy” lacking but it, “directly challenges” mental health practice integrity by placing the public “at risk.” 

Negative Reinforcement

Professor Lohr isn’t alone. Additional studies were done by the University of Michigan and Florida State University look at the argument held by rage room supporters: because the endorphin release you feel after smashing things improves your mood – much in the way exercise does – it’s healthy. However, an increased number of studies share the determination, that the good feeling following anger venting is “likely to reinforce venting – and violence.”

Remember your bad day at work? Did you know that if you kept revisiting the event and reliving the details of it as you ‘vented’ to family, friends, or coworkers, you won’t actually feel more relaxed? The exact opposite happens – you’ll experience stress and anger every time you think about the event or your workplace in general. 

Productive Alternatives

Thankfully, more productive alternatives exist to help you manage workplace anger and frustration. 

Walk Away and Breathe

Walking away when you feel that frustration beginning to build is one way to help reduce workplace stress. A few intentional deep breaths will go along way in helping you refocus and better equip you to return to the meeting with a plan of action. Additionally, deep breathing has the additional benefit of helping to alleviate stress and body tension. 

Express Yourself With Purpose

Word can be powerful weapons, and your word choice can have a profound impact on conflict resolution. Reframing statements from an “I” rather than “You” perspective can help resolve an issue before it escalates. “I am angry because the meeting went ahead without me” will be better received than “You shouldn’t have started that meeting without me.”

Anger management in the workplace doesn’t have to mean shutting down operations for intensive restructuring. The small changes you make today can have a dramatic impact on workplace culture, helping to cultivate an environment where productivity thrives.