The Arc of Anger in the Workplace

Did you ever experience a person of authority in the workplace who “ruled” with anger?  I say “ruled” because you really can’t call it managing, and you really can’t call them a manager or even a leader.  Although people who accept this barbaric style (do I seem a bit passionate about this subject?)  of “ruling” will call it managing.   Well, I am here to talk about this beast of anger that exists in millions of businesses from the executive offices to the person who sweeps the floors.

It is the dream of every business owner and manager to have team that is aligned, balanced and satisfied.  When the entire team has this mindset, there is little turnover, better bottom lines, the business simply thrives with ease.  But if the leader falls short of these expectations,  the ripple runs deep throughout the organization.  Consider this story about one potential leader:

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A nurse (we’ll call her Carol) stepped into her boss’ office one day to discuss the time off structure.  “I believe that part-timers should get paid vacation, too.  I have worked here for one year and have not been able to take time off. with pay”   Her boss (Bridget)  was surprised by her request, since she only worked two to three days per week and had the rest of the week to call “vacation.”   “Carol, we’ve had this discussion before and it seems that other part-time nurses are completely satisfied in working with the current structure.  What else do you have to talk with me about?”

Carol’s anger was mounting as she resolved that she had no other choice but to be persistent – today.  It was important to her and her family.  “Bridget, this is really important to me and I wish you would not dismiss it as though it were not.  Each year my family would like to take vacation without my loss of income.  I’m only asking for a week, for God’s sake!”

Bridget stood up from her desk.  “We are done here.  You have come to me for six months, ungrateful for the job I have given you, and you ask for paid vacation while others are perfectly happy with this arrangement.  I am not going to re-write policy for one person, let alone a part-timer who is consistent whining!”

Tears brimming in her eyes, Carol left and went back to her desk.  She couldn’t show this tyrant her defeat, although she felt defeated and a failure.  She wanted Bridget to at least consider her request just once.  She believed it was a small request that would show little impact.  Two days a week?  Really? This nursing agency can’t afford that?!  C’mon!!

Bridget slammed her door upon the heels of Carol’s exit.  She was billowing with the internal fires of anger.  How dare her, coming in here like a princess, demanding that she have more perks than what we already give!  She is such a pre-madonna witch!!  I oughta just fire her and put myself out of this misery  each month.

A faint knock on the door in intervals of three caught her attention.  “What?!” she shouted.

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“A faint knock on the door…”

“Bridget, a man has been waiting to see you for about 20 minutes, ”  said the receptionist.  “He said he only has 10 more minutes to wait.”

“Tell him that he was late, so he’s just going to have to reschedule,” Bridget barked back.

“Yes, ma’am,  I will tell him, but he is here to audit our files.”  Bridget’s body began to shake, she felt out of control.  “It’s that damn Carol, she started all of this, this morning! “

Bridget instructed the receptionist to detain the auditor just a few more minutes because she had to take care of something extremely important.  The staff could hear her vindictive sounding high heels stomping through the walls of cubicles.  Who will be next?  They were used to this weekly turmoil from Bridget’s office.  Always someone getting reprimanded or fired. They were nearly immune to the continuous drama.

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Her stomps stopped at Carol’s cubicle.  Bridget hovered over Carol as she sat nervously fumbling through papers and not daring to look up at the “monster.”   “Carol?”   Carol did not dare look her in the eye, she trembled with fear.  “I called your name, I deserve your attention, Carol.”   She finally complied with a wincing eye-response.


“Bridget?”  A long pause seemed to suck the air from Carol’s lungs.

“Carol, you have caused my whole day to be disrupted, late for my appointment, and it is 9am and you are not out seeing patients.  How can I expect to run a decent agency when one nurse cannot comply like the rest?”   Carol mustered up the courage to regain her composure.

“But, Bridget?”

“What do you want now, Carol?!” Bridget screamed back in single word accents. ” I have someone important waiting!!”

“Today is my day off.  I came in on my day off to meet with you, so I will not be seeing patients, today.”

“Fine, that’s just fine.  See, you have a day off!  I do not, however, and need to get to an appointment.  You can pack up your stuff and get the hell out of here.  You have caused too much disruption in the flow of work around here!”  With that, Carol experienced a calmness  that seemingly came out of nowhere.  “Not a problem, Bridget.  I will be gone, today.  All of my equipment is setting on the counter.  Have a successful year, Bridget.”

Expecting a fight from Carol, Bridget needed more fuel for her anger.  She stomped back to the front desk where the auditor was waiting.  She shoved her hand in his face, smiled with all teeth, and made her introduction.  She turned dryly and led the man back to her office, again digging her heels into the floor as she walked.

The auditor asked for a glass of water and Bridget stopped for a deep breath,  rolled her eyes, and called the receptionist to bring back a pitcher of water and two glasses.  None of her actions and words went unnoticed by the auditor.  He was within clear ear-shot of the earlier conversation and the eye-roll was the next straw that were tipping the scales of his awaited report.

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“Bridget,  we met three months ago and discussed a few items that did not pass my audit.  Would you present your response and demonstrate the process outcomes?”

“I sent those to you, Mr. Clark, on tie so I thought you were here to clear our response to the discrepancies. Did you receive them?”

“Well, yes, but I need to see how you corrected the process.”

“Oh, the process!  The process, yes.  Well, the nurses took care of that.”

As you read this story, you can see where Bridget’s fate is headed.  What can you point out as some of the key components of how her anger is mounting to an arc, like a flashpoint of fire?

  1.  No filters- speaks in negative terms
  2.  Only one of the side of the story is important- hers
  3.  Blames others for her shortcomings
  4.  Allows impatience to fuel anger
  5.  No compassion
  6.   Seems “put upon” – perhaps a by-product of overwhelm or large undertakings beyond her scope of time or skill
  7.   No delegation of role- did not refer to human resources
  8.   Not a champion for the team- lack of respect
  9.   No leadership skills
  10.   Does not see how her actions affect everyone around her (remember the fearing people in the cubicles?)

It appears that Bridget allowed her anger to surpass what was really important – apparently on a daily basis.

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What? You don’t think these managers still exist in the workplace in our current society of being equal and kind to one another (tongue in cheek)?  Hmmm.  Ask around, they exist more than you know.  What is important is that you recognize it, report it, and possibly offer help to bring balance – if you are that type of person who is strong enough to handle this style of management.  Work with your human resource department, and get some coaching to arm yourself with mental tools to care for yourself.

Now, what to do about Bridget.  Eventually, Bridget was reported by Carol to the human resources director.  With Carol’s persistence and accurate reporting, the human resources department referred Bridget to a coaching program.  Their company had an employee assistance program that included six weeks of coaching.  Of course Bridget was resistant because her anger was still at the arc of destruction – self-destruction and workplace destruction.

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After several phone calls from human resources, and finally a warning, Bridget succumbed and scheduled her first coaching session.  She agreed to “meet” her coach over the phone on her lunch break (which Bridget had to create time for to make this work).

Her assigned coach, Cara, greeted her with openness and grace.  Immediately, Bridget began spewing out all of her woes with work and how she feels like she could die due to all the stress.  She said she was on a heart monitor and taking a sleep study because she cannot sleep and her heart was beating a “million miles a minute.”

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Cara allowed her to download for about 10 minutes and then stopped her to ask a question: “What’s your favorite time of year?”  Bridget stopped her spinning abruptly and answered the question.   Cara always viewed this as the magic that intercepts the arc of anger.  Surprised with the abrupt cadence, Bridget responded, “I like Summer, why?”  And, the healing began.

Bridget attended Cara’s sessions for the maximum allowed, then hired her for the next year.  Bridget had broken a cycle that was causing her suffering for so many years.   Each session brought more clarity of her anger:  she was angry about her father leaving when she was 10, she was the primary caregiver of her siblings when her mother went to night classes, she had no friends at school, she struggled through college; and, the list went on.

All of these incidents and events in her life impacted how she would interpret the journey in her adult life.  ‘Fight them off before they get to know you‘ became her internal mantra.  However, without external intervention she may have lived with this in her mind for the rest of her life, impacting everyone around her and beyond (ever “kicked the cat” when you came home from work? It’s called the domino-effect.).

Bridget took a short leave of absence, at the recommendation of the director.  She was lucky, very lucky to have a director who saw her potential and did not allow Bridget’s emotional “baggage” to cloud what she knew was important: take care of the person and the rest will come.

When Bridget returned to work, she – bravely- held a meeting and shared her journey.  Most of her staff were understanding and willing to start over.  Others had their own arcs of anger that Bridget would embrace as a new journey, just like her boss had done for her.

The agency was able to reclaim their license with Bridget’s new diplomatic process.  She created a new policy for all meetings that included listening to each individual who had something to input.  Bridget made it a priority to really “hear” the complaints and concerns of her staff and to help them make a better impact on the world with their own happiness.   Bridget was finally aligned, balanced and satisfied.

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What passion rocks your world?

Kat is a professional mentor, author, and women’s advocate who specializes in the art and science of Core Alignment, NeuroLinguistic Programming and Emotional Wisdom Training, and holds a certificate in the Psychology of Happiness.

She offers programs for life and business, featuring Women’s Enrichment Programs and Diversity in Business.Ask about her POW (Power of Wisdom) Tribes! kat@taprootsforlife.com               929-333-4624

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Calming the Terrier Mind for Better Focus and Balance

We all have our moments of distraction, right? Well, some of us have so many ideas, deadlines, and media recall running through our minds that distractions come easily, and sometimes with fatalities. Ever realize you drove home from work and don’t remember how you got there?  We have entered the realm of the terrier mind.

This is a quick guide to gather information on resources that could help you become more focused, mindful, and feel more grounded in your daily life.

Have you ever watched one? A terrier, that is. They are quick-witted little dogs that can catch your eye in a second, and that may all the time you get to actually see the cuteness. Terriers dart at anything that catches their attention: leaves falling; walnuts on the ground become toys; paper in the trash can; the merciless cats that “taunt” them; and, of course…squirrels. And they race until the sun goes down. Back and forth, back and forth, halting and darting to every sensory stimulus that sparks their mind.

My point is that our minds can be much like the terrier mind. Do you experience this? I do, at times. Especially as a writer! Ideas, ideas, everywhere ideas. So many ideas, so little time. And, I could write on and on about this topic…but! I will not bore you with that rabbit hole – which is a whole different subject. And, by the way, terriers do love rabbit holes!

Let’s take a gaze into a person’s life on the job. Emily is a senior manager at her lobbying firm. She worked hard to get there because of her keen attention to detail, her talent for vision, and her sense of focus. After five years, Emily had built several working teams, improved her bottomline, landed multiple accounts with top executive businesses, and managed to pull off Business Woman of the Year.Blurred Colored Lights

In her sixth year, something shifted for Emily. She was feeling worn out at the end of her usual twelve-hour day. She noticed that she had more than her fair share of colds and flu-bugs. Her mental and emotional fuses became short when people would ask her simple questions or ask her to do a presentation for an inquiring business. Emily could not seem to find the balance between work and home. She lost interest in working out and playing sports. Emily had finally succumbed to her terrier mind!

Few people can continue to multi-task, engage every thought, and be successful for very long. And even fewer people make it out alive (not kidding), never addressing the real cause and effect: terrier mind plus burnout equals health decline (sometimes heart attacks and other life limiting illnesses).

Anyone reading this blog is a talented person with a brilliant mind, yet something drew you to this particular article.  You guessed it! The terrier mind was at it again!!  So, what if you could train your terrier mind to have the focus  and balance you’ve longed for?  What difference would it make for you?  How would your life change?  Yep, that’s what I thought.  I’ll bet you could answer those questions very quickly!

So!  Where do we go from here?  There are many books on how to attain focus, zen meditations, years of counseling, massage and any of the arts that point to relaxation of the mind.  And, I am not discounting any of these services – they are needed and have certainly found their niche in personal wellness.  But, it takes a little more than a weekend or one session to discover and re-train a “mental program” that has been running in your head for some time.  This terrier mind can be re-trained!

In fact, to re-train your mind is not only essential to regaining balance and focus, it

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Csíkszentmihályi, 2010- Courtesy of Wikipedia

is also beneficial for your health.  Remember the ads for senior citizens that tell the audience to get out and learn something new?  It is the same concept.  Engage in new thought patterns – live longer and healthier!

According to Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, Hungarian-American psychologist, when focused on a task that brings happiness, one experiences “flow.”  It is a state of concentration where time and space become non-existent.  While many people do not work in jobs that bring this state, it becomes important to us to either choose a job that embraces a passion that we envision; or, train our minds to bring this sense of focus and flow to our existing life and work.

Glasses on Book-SketchI know, as a writer, that I can write for hours, sometimes days, without realizing any sense of time, space or anything going on around me.  It is a place of complete focus and happiness.  This always been easy and natural for me.  The balance, however, I had to work on.  We can become so absorbed in this focus that other responsibilities can fall to the wayside.

So, what is the answer?  Remember the terrier mind and the re-training that I mentioned earlier?  Re-training the mind is possible through utilizing NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) and Emotional Wisdom Training (EWT).  These terms get thrown around a lot in social media and other big box advertising for coaching.  Here are some statements that sets NLP and EWT practices apart from others:

Kate Michels

1. A coach, mentor, or counselor (practitioner) who uses NLP or EWT (coined by Kate Michels, Psychologist) will only guide a client.  He/she does not suggest or re-train your mind for you.

2.  It is not hypnotherapy, but uses the same concept, except you are completely awake and conscious.  You are in control of the path you choose with your practitioner.

3. Re-training your mind for long term pattern change cannot be done in a weekend.  It took years for your beliefs and patterns to form so it takes a little time to re-train; sort of like learning to ride a bike again after years of not riding.

4.  Combined, EWT and NLP follow an artful method to practice with clients and the science to back it up.  EWT/NLP practitioners are trained in the cause and effect of emotions and the gentle way of assisting a client down those paths of former mental programs without dwelling in the emotion.   Outcomes are subtle, yet very powerful. Suddenly, one might realize that they are acting or speaking differently than before, for example.  They, also, realize that this is the path they chose and attained.

5.  Practitioners become adept at coaching/mentoring with practice.  Most schools do not offer a period of working with real clients in order to experience all types of behaviors.  It is also important to hire a NLP practitioner who also practices EWT.  Ask the questions.

6.  A client may work on one pattern of behavior at a time.  One cannot fix all mental programs in a few weeks.  The client chooses, with the practitioner, what they want to work on and the idea becomes the focus throughout the weeks of mentoring/coaching.

7.  Re-aligning the mind for focus and balance is a moderately timed methodical approach to lasting results

8.  Here are some quick resources:

Professional Mentoring   Schedule a free session with a Professional Mentor and experience the methods described in this blog.

Professional Coach Training:  Learn more about how to become a professional coach with training that focuses on the art, psychology, and scientific methods that bring results.

NLP Coaching Resource Search for a coach or mentor that best fits what you wish to change or improve

I took the methodical approach for myself and put in the time to re-train my mind through many limiting beliefs that I created over time, abuses that I experienced, and built up terrier mind thought processes that were not serving me, and were creating a field of illness all around me.  This was, and still is, time well spent to create a healthier outlook on life, healthier body, deeper sense of spirit, and experience the utmost – balance and happiness!

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What passion rocks your world?

Kat is a Professional Success Catalyst  and Mind Alchemist who specializes in the art and science of Core Alignment, NeuroLinguistic Programming and Emotional Wisdom Training, and holds a certificate in the Psychology of Happiness.

She offers programs for life and business, featuring Women’s Enrichment Programs and Diversity in Business.

Ask about her POW (Power of Wisdom) Tribes! kat@taprootsforlife.com               929-333-4624