As much as we want to remain calm, consistent, and focused at work, it is not easy. We are all humans who react to pressure and experience a multitude of emotions. Sometimes it gets too much to handle and we have an anger outburst at work. We might want to forget such episodes, but others might not. So, we have to manage the aftermath. Here’s how to go about it.

  • Make amends quickly. Apologize as soon as you calm down. The lesser the gap between the incident and the apology, the better. It prevents unnecessary gossip about the episode. According to research, effective apologies have six components:
    1. Letting people know you regret what happened.
    2. Giving a short explanation of what was going on.
    3. Taking responsibility for your actions.
    4. Sharing how you feel about your actions.
    5. Offering to repair, like hearing people out.
    6. Requesting for forgiveness.

The more of these components you include in your conversation, the more favorably others respond. However, not all aspects are equally important. The most critical one is acknowledging responsibility. When you apologize for your outburst, own what you did. An example:

I’d like to apologize for yelling at you last week. It wasn’t fair on my part. I was exhausted and irritated about the slow progress of the project. However, I should’ve taken a break and chatted with you later. I feel bad about treating you that way and not giving you room to speak. It wasn’t okay. I’m sorry. Is there anything that you’d like to share about that exchange? I’m all ears.”

  • Explore why it happened. If behaving this way is out of the norm, then look at what caused it. Did personal issues trickle into your interactions? Do you need to better manage your reactions, when under pressure? Or is it anything to do with specific people or your expectations of them? Answering questions like these helps you become aware of your needs. But, if you have outbursts routinely, step back and look at the patterns. You might need help managing your temper or controlling a tendency to be defensive. Ask for support from a senior or a coach and work on your habit. Otherwise, your apologies will become meaningless.
  • Be patient and consistent. A negative experience is likely to stick in people’s minds for longer and override multiple positive experiences. It’s the way we are wired to keep ourselves safe. So, if you want to fix your reputation, display positive behaviors consistently. It’ll take time for people to change their perception about you – they need to notice the new behavior and believe it’ll last. So, don’t give up.

How we choose to repair negative situations goes a long way in building trusting relationships. Focus on that, instead of just dwelling on the mistake you made.

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