It's just a TPS Report: How to step away from your Desk Rage

Summary:Much of the advice on handling desk rage might, at best, be hard to apply and at its worst, entirely misses the mark. Listen instead to the IT Grind's Three No-Nonsense Steps to Stepping Away From Your Desk Rage.

Workers Gone Wild! Like Office Space, but less funny.
If, perhaps, you shared my weakness for the 2008 Olympics Women's Gymnastics All-Around Competition and watched the event all the way until the very end last night and then continued to watch NBC long enough to catch the late late news, you might have caught a report on the "newest serious workplace threat"--drumroll--Desk Rage.

Type these words into Google and it will return over 60,000 results with headlines ranging from "Workers gone wild!" to "Workers: More and more out of control" and "Is there one in your office?" NBC's on-the-ground reporting found a few gruff-looking guys weighing in with their own on-the-job war stories: "I've seen someone pick up the phone and beat someone over the head with it" said one, while another "once saw someone throw a chair at a window and break the window."

First there was road rage, then there was air rage and now there is desk rage? Is desk rage truly the newest "workplace killer" or is this just a contrived story to fill out news hours in the dog days of summer when most of America is more deeply engrossed in Phelps Fanticism than whatever those news anchors are going on about in South Ossetia?

Not to make light of the real-life scary workplace headlines this week such as "Arkansas Supsect Quit Job on Day of Killing" but it seems that much of the advice on handling desk rage might at best be hard to apply and at its worst, entirely misses the mark. Dr. Kerry Sulkowicz of the Boswell Group told NBC news that "rage can be avoided when workers can talk about what's wrong in the office." In an illustrated slideshow, Forbes suggest that one go as far as to drive their troubled coworker to a therapist's office to get them help. And Career Builder, via CNN.com, suggests that employees dealing with an enraged coworker apologize for anything they might have done to set him or her off. Hm, okay then.

The next time you're at work and something has gone down that you have decided is the last straw consider instead The IT Grind's Three No-Nonsense Steps to Stepping Away From Your Desk Rage (TM)

1. It's. Just. A. Job.

As difficult it may be to remember when your blood is boiling because consultants you hired have delivered yet another shoddy product and are all offline when your CIO wants it fixed yesterday, this thing you do from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? It's just a job. You might be there for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is to put food on the table. And if it makes you miserable, or if the stress is too much to bear, there are probably other jobs out there that are less inclined to make you fly off the handle.

2. Seriously, you look ridiculous when you lose your temper.

If you're the kind of person who likes to look and act professional at work--and you should be, as it will get you further--you might want to consider not gritting your teeth, flaring your nostrils and white-knuckling your mouse every time something irks you. All you're doing is guaranteeing that the next time the big shots are looking for someone to promote to a more important or customer-facing role, they're going to pass right over the person they can't trust to keep his or her cool.

3. You're not going to get what you want.

No matter how satisfying you are sure it will be to actually hurl that Blackberry at the person who keeps knowingly and/or intentionally pushing your buttons, you might want to instead consider the arduous conversation you'll be having with police and then your lawyer and then your boss or supervisor and then the bureaucrat at the unemployment office, because it the only thing that is actually certain is that following this gut instinct will not have its intended result.

Topics: CXO, IT Employment

About

Deb Perelman is a journalist in New York City with a focus on tech and the daily grind. Previously she was a reporter for eWEEK, leading the magazine and Web site's coverage of the issue and trends that affect IT workers.

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