Career Corner: The Currency of Anger

Often, it’s the loudest, most aggressive people who are able to push their agendas through. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately. It’s not new, but it certainly seems to be increasing. When you are a customer and something goes wrong at a company, the company doesn’t resolve the issue until you get angry.

Can you relate to this experience? You have a problem with a product or service you received. There isn’t an easy way to get it addressed. So, perhaps you visit the company website. They try to funnel you to a frequently asked questions page. When that doesn’t work, you try live chat. You quickly learn that the live chat person on the other side isn’t a person at all. It’s an automated bot. So, you begin to ask for a real person. When you finally get a real person, they often don’t have the power to truly help you. They likely also haven’t been trained to have all the answers either. If you get very angry, eventually, someone knowledgeable will be assigned to help you. Companies often have a special team to handle angry customers. Then, suddenly, your issue will be resolved! In the meantime, you’ll be left with a headache and some level of exhaustion from all the work it took to get there. Depending on the company, this process could take minutes, hours, or even days.

I observe a similar phenomenon in today’s workplace. Often, it’s the loudest, most aggressive people who are able to push their agendas through. You may have even found yourself escalating issues at times when you would prefer not to, in order to get things done. And, you’ve probably had that headache and exhaustion.

It’s quite an unfortunate state of affairs when our currency is our anger. Whether you’re a customer or you’re at work, it should not be necessary to escalate to such a level to get resolution. People should be willing to follow through on their commitments. And, they should be honest and straightforward when they cannot.  

As you go through your day, I hope you might take this idea into consideration. It may not help as much when you’re working to push an agenda through. But, I hope that when you are the gatekeeper, you may not require the other person to use anger as their currency. Try to be more flexible. Do what’s right, and what you would want if you were on the other side of the conversation.

They say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Don’t require everyone to be a squeaky wheel. Help out when you know it’s the right thing to do. We should not be required to spend our days generating anger and frustration simply to achieve simple tasks. Life is too short to spend so much time in these negative emotions.

Let’s find our way to another kind of currency: honesty, commitment, and respect. Treat others with these things, and reward those who treat you with them.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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