The next time you’re livid at work, think back to this moment. Maybe your boss took credit for an idea that was originally yours. Perhaps your coworker made another snarky comment hinting that they could do your job better than you. New research from the leadership training company VitalSmarts suggests that expressing your anger openly at work could have negative consequences.
In a recent poll of more than 11,000 people, VitalSmarts found that female and male employees who were visibly angry were perceived differently. The survey, which consisted of watching videos of employees reacting to various work scenarios, found that participants deemed “assertive or forceful” women as 35% less competent and believed they earned $15,088 less than their male counterparts. Men who displayed feminine qualities also experienced a negative reaction, but they only lost around half of what the theoretical salary could have been.
“Getting visibly angry at the office can undermine your professionalism as a woman. Whether or not you think it’s fair, it’s, unfortunately, true,” says Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster. “Therefore, you need to rely on tools to rise above and remain the utmost professional in the heat of the moment,” she explains. Here are her tips for success.
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- Keep That Email Draft.
It may feel great to write an email about how angry you are and why the recipient deserves your anger, but resist the urge to send it. “Sending an angry email only makes the situation worse, as everything is documented in writing,” says Salemi. “Instead, write a response, but save it as a draft.” Always double-check your emails before sending them, even if you’re confident they’re correct.
- Get Some Fresh Air and Go for a Walk Outside.
“Even a 10-minute walk can help diminish anger. It will clear your head and physically remove you from the situation,” says Salemi. She strongly suggests using a short walk as an opportunity to both clear your mind and relieve any stress in your body.“Remember to breathe and surround yourself with something peaceful like nature, so you can focus on the trees and the sky,” she says.
- Talk to Your Client or Prospect Either via Phone or in Person.
After you’ve calmed down from your walk, review your email draft. If it still seems too heated, discuss the matter in person or over the phone instead of via email.“It’s much easier to handle the conversation that way instead of by starting a back-and-forth with an email,” says Salemi. Not to mention, when you can communicate face-to-face, it’s much easier to avoid any potential miscommunications.
- The Words You Choose Matter.
Salemi’s tip here is more of a genius Jedi mind trick: “Instead of assigning blame or saying the other person is part of the problem, make him or her part of the solution,” she explains. Rather than going for an accusatory “I can’t believe you said that!” she suggests something like, “It’s clear we don’t see eye to eye here, but we need to focus on the finish line. This is how I envision the project, why don’t you let me know how you envision it so we can collaborate on a solution?” The VitalSmarts study found that when people used emotional “framing statements” that showed they were in control of their emotions, other people’s bias against them dropped by 27 percent.
- Relax and Have Some Fun.
It’s worthwhile to try and forget about work Irritation until you return the next day, but that only works so much. You don’t want to come back feeling even more rush of anger, right? Instead, use your time off from work strategically to work through your anger. “Vent to a mentor, take a kickboxing class or go for a run. Do anything that helps you feel like you can return to the office with a new frame of mind,” says Salemi. As an added benefit, if you pick the workout route, not only will your anger give you some extra energy, but the endorphins released after exercise can help keep residual negativity at bay.
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- The Best Thing You Can Do Is to Be the Bigger Person.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in anger towards a colleague who regularly stresses you out. But it’s important to remember that holding a grudge does more damage to you than the person you’re angry at. After all, “resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Instead, Salemi says to push yourself to be kind, and compassionate, and treat it as a learning experience. “Look at this as a growth opportunity in conflict resolution,” she says. “When you’re the boss running the organization, you’ll be able to defuse tense situations because you’ve been there, done that, and soared!”