Anger in Organisations
Anger in Organisations is rife. A lot is written about the subject with little practical application. Organisations working in mental health, drugs and alcohol, domestic violence are all dealing with anger.
Arguably every organisation centred around a group of individuals working together is going to have issues of anger to deal with. Organisations working with client groups who are angry carry double load of internal organisational and external client group anger.
Many people coming into mental health organisations particularly with abusive backgrounds have polarised views of anger. For example two common positions are the opposite positions of No Anger and violence. Violence is unacceptable so no anger is the only safe position. Violence is the anger being acted out. Uncontained, spontaneous and unpredictable – violence is a taboo (depending on your place in the world) most would agree with.
So what happens if the person is angry? They have to depress it. Put it away. Make it hidden. Anger like this is collected, and builds up. If it is unaddressed it can burst out: usually on nearest and dearest.
The organisation works in the same way. Staff who are not angry are rewarded with power and influence. Staff who are angry and challenge the organisation are treated like a threat. The identification of violence and maleness makes the organisation suspicious of male staff with assertiveness and potency.
Anger collects up and groups of staff leave. Anger which cannot be expressed – builds and then is acted out.
The other common form of anger in people and organisations is passive anger or aggression. Anger which cannot be directly accessed seeps out in the form of blocking or behind the scenes manoeuvring.
The verbal expression of anger is repeatedly misunderstood. The interpretation of anger as a helpful energy to protect or a motivator for good is a new concept. Owning feelings of anger and expressing them calmly in a way which can be heard and acknowledged sounds abstract and muddled.
How do we own our feelings? The first big step for the person or organisation is to be aware that their anger exists. Perhaps this is the biggest step: after that looking at anger and understanding it is possible.
Organisations working with people who are angry find it hard to deal with their own anger issues. It is too close; to threatening and undermines the notion of the help being provided.
It takes a brave organisation or person who looks at their own issues of anger.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2013
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique