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Common Causes of Anger in the Workplace

Acknowledging common causes of anger

What makes a person angry in a specific instance may be any combination of causes. But generally, anger is driven by a sense that one’s value or self-worth is being threatened. For example, anger can be triggered by feelings of betrayal, humiliation, and exploitation. This points to the importance of respect in all your workplace interactions.

What has caused you to get angry at work in the last month?

You might have listed some or all of the five causes of anger that seem to be commonly noted across many different business environments:

  • dissatisfaction with the system,
  • unequal treatment,
  • hindered goals, and
  • dissimilar values, and
  • hierarchical relationships.

1. Dissatisfaction with the system

Dissatisfaction with the system is a predominant cause of anger in the workplace. If you find you or your colleagues tend to blame “the system,” it’s a pretty good indicator that something’s wrong with the way things are being done in your organization. Dissatisfaction with the system is hard to resolve; it will take time and dedication to find solutions and defuse the anger that’s generated because of it.

In most cases, the source of dissatisfaction with the system is factors that are beyond your control, which then leads to anger. Three typical factors that lead to dissatisfaction with the system are increased competition, the size of the organization, and higher performance expectations.

Increased competition

You, and your coworkers, will likely feel as though you have no control over events related to increased competition in the global marketplace. When things like downsizing and outsourcing happen, it can create fear and insecurity, which can lead to anger.

Size of the organization

When you’re angry, you need someone to blame. But sometimes organizations are so large that you can’t determine who’s to blame, making resolution of your anger more difficult.

Bureaucracy and the “one size fits all” policies and procedures that tend to exist in larger organizations can also result in anger. Typically, these policies and procedures don’t “fit all,” and actually make it difficult for employees to do their jobs efficiently.

Higher performance expectations

In general, employers today have higher performance expectations than ever before. You may feel pressure to be more efficient and productive with fewer resources, while striving for continual improvement.

You may become angry if you feel underappreciated for what you’ve achieved, or if you feel the expectations of you are unfair given the resources and time you have to work with.