Whether you’ve discovered a problem or you’ve become a target because of a problem, you need a special skill set to respond to workplace nonsense caused by anger.

Occasionally, you’re faced with an angry Associate that just can’t cope with the operation’s constraints, or worse, you’ve discovered responsibility for an omission or act that is unethical, or even worse, you’ve discovered a deed that will affect your Company’s credibility or add unnecessary expense to cause workplace nonsense.

When your anger signal emerges or when you’re confronted by an angry Associate of the same sex, adapt and apply the following skill sets while moving to a private location. If you’re confronted by an Associate of the opposite sex, adapt the same skill set while moving to an area where witnesses are present. Be aware that any personal interaction that occurs during working hours is subject to oversight and control by the Company to avoid workplace nonsense.

Attack the Issue, not the Person
Name calling puts people in a position to respond angrily and defensively.
Name calling is usually used when a person feels they are losing. Name calling breaks-down communication and destroys trust in the relationship.

Look at Why you are Arguing
Are you/they determined to win? Is your/their objective to vent anger? Are you/they attempting to embarrass the other person? Are you/they honestly attempting to communicate and/or resolve thoughts and feeling? If you/they demand to win, this argument will not become a discussion and contribute to workplace nonsense.

Listen and Hear
Try to deal with your/their perception of the situation. Be aware of your/their feelings.
Make sure you/they really heard what was being said and repeat what you/they heard.

Deal with the Here and Now
Don’t refer to past mistakes and incidents. The past is generally dragged-in when you/they feel that the argument is being lost. Bringing in past grievances only attacks the other person, causes ill feeling, and breaks down communication to allow workplace nonsense to persist.

Don’t make Comparisons to other People, Stereotypes, or Situations
Focus your/their attention on this unique situation.

Give the Other Person Equal Time
You/they need to express feelings and points-of-view to create a full, mutual understanding.

Don’t Blame
Deal with your feelings and take responsibility for them rather than blaming them on others. Use “I” statements rather than accusation “You” statements. Blaming causes you/they to become defensive, which promotes workplace nonsense.

Don’t Make Threats
Threats back people into a corner which leads to ultimatums in order to save-face.

Don’t Play Games
A game is being played when you/they are not being direct and honest about what you/they want or need in a situation. Examples: silent treatment, uproar, yes-but, if you trusted me, and if it weren’t for.

Don’t Involve Other People’s Opinions of the Situation
“He/she agrees with me”! The only opinion that is relevant is yours or theirs.

Don’t Say “Always” or “Never”
These are usually exaggerations and will put you/them on the defensive, which promotes workplace nonsense.

Admit When You are Wrong
Pride can create a major impasse in communicating.

Recognize Your Anger
Become aware when you are no longer engaged in constructive arguing by monitoring your body signals: pounding heart, flushed face, headache, clenched fist, racing thoughts, sweating, tense jaw, inability to listen… (Are you another source of workplace nonsense?)

Take a “Time-Out”
You/they may recognize that this argument will not become a discussion, so politely say,
“I need to privately think about this issue so I’m leaving for an hour.” You may not be able to leave the workplace so take your time-out away from others that may fuel the argument.

Leave for an Hour
Do something constructive like jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, walking, running, but don’t hit anything since that acts-out violence to promote workplace nonsense. Examine your point of view using “I” statements like “I feel hurt” and “I understand”. “I” statements cause acceptance of responsibility while “you” statements just attack.

Check Back In
Ask “Is now a good time to talk”?  “Can you/they explain why you/they felt anger”?
Attempt to resolve the problem using your skill set but take another “time-out” if the discussion becomes an argument. If you can’t resolve the problem after your 2nd time-out, table the issue for another time and follow-through at that time – try 24 hours. During that time, look for a win-win solution. If you can’t resolve the problem after 3 attempts, get help from Company officials.

Sit Next to Each Other
Did you know that sitting across the table from each other during conflict resolution is antagonistic? If you know you must resolve the issue because you really need this job, or you really need that Associate, then sit next to each other. That doesn’t mean you’re going to hold hands or take a shower together. Just sit on the same bench or on the same side of the desk or table. If you’re a Supervisor and you must settle this issue so both sides win, offer your chair to your Associate and sit on the other side of the desk to dispel workplace nonsense.