Earlier this week I wrote about how to express your anger in a positive and healthy way. Expressing your anger this way is not very intuitive for most of us, so I thought I would create a small case study to illustrate how to do it.
Jodie sells paper in a large department store. She’s been working very hard and has the best sales record on the sales floor. When she decides to ask for a raise, however, her manager starts laughing and he dismisses her request with no further explanation.
Jodie’s very angry at his reaction. She’s about to tell her manager what she thinks of his management. She’s about to tell him that his store is crap, that the customers are dumb, and she’s about to yell at him that she doesn’t need this job anyway, because she’s the best salesperson and another store will hire her without any hesitation.
Actually, this story is mistitled. Jodie is very angry, but she remembers reading this wonderful blog post, and she manages to stop herself before having an emotional outburst.
Instead, she doesn’t say anything. She manages to gather all the self-control she has left, and she simply tells her manager that she wants to talk more to him later. Then she leaves the room.
But she’s so angry. She pictures herself pillaging the store as she walks to the employee room. She thinks about giving her two weeks’ notice right away, about leaving and never coming back. But that’s okay; she knows it’s normal to feel angry in this situation. She lets these visions come and go, and she begins to feel more clear-headed.
She then begins the process of identifying her needs. Why is she so angry? Sure, she could use the extra money the pay her bills, but she’s not angry because her manager rejected her request for a raise. She’s angry because of the WAY he rejected it.
Jodie is angry because she needs respect for the work she does. That’s a fundamental need for her. She’s been coming to work early and leaving late every day, trying to sell a maximum amount of paper to her clients, and it’s as if nobody noticed. By rejecting her request for a raise with a laugh, her manager has violated her need for respect.
As soon as she realizes that, other emotions surface and she begins identifying them. She feels sad and discouraged because she has never received any kind of recognition for her hard work and that led her to look for recognition herself by asking for a raise.
She takes the time to think about her anger and prepares to communicate her need to her manager to have her and her work respected.
The next morning, she decides to address her manager as such: “When I saw you laugh at my request for a raise (fact) it made me very angry (emotion) because I need respect for myself as a person (need). I also feel sad and discouraged (emotions) because I need recognition for my hard work and my efforts (need). Would you be willing to explain to me why I can’t have a raise right now (request)?”
Her manager then proceeds to explain that she’s his best employee and that he’s sorry for not letting it show. He explains that he had just gotten off the phone with the division manager when she asked for a raise, and that he needs to cut the store budget by 25%. He is trying to figure out a way to do this without letting anybody go. He says that his laugh was a nervous one and that he didn’t intent to hurt her. He was planning to take the time to prepare an appropriate response to her request, and he is sorry for making her angry.
If Jodie hadn’t taken the time to understand her anger, she would have exploded in front of her manager. Being under pressure himself, her manager would have retaliated. Unhappy manager and unhappy employee.
Now, Jodie might still be unhappy about not getting a raise, but she understands her manager’s motives. She realizes that it’s not a raise she needs the most, but recognition for her work. Her manager is now aware of this need and goes an extra length to make sure Jodie gets positive feedback on her work every week. Jodie and her manager lived happily ever after, until the day she moved up in the world and opened her own chain of retail stores. The end.
What would you have done if you were Jodie in this story? Do you think she reacted the best way she possibly could, or do you see something she should have done differently?