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A Dallas newspaper printed a story last year about a man who got upset at his washing machine, dragged it out the front door and unloaded his shotgun into it. Police subsequently hauled him away. Reporting on the incident the following day, a reporter described the man's action as "appliance rage."
It seems that rage is all the rage-even in the office. While workplace violence that culminates in bloodshed garners a lot of publicity, far more common are the shouting matches and fistfights that don't make the evening news.
One reason behind the recent upsurge in desk rage may be new levels of stress. According to a new workplace survey by CIGNA Behavioral Health, "Worried at Work: Mood and Mindset in the American Workplace," workers are stressed to epidemic proportions. Forty-four percent of employees surveyed said their job was more stressful than a year ago. As a result, 45 percent said they've either considered leaving their job in the last year, left a job or plan to do so soon.
By learning how to identify employee stress before it blows up, you may be able to avoid "desk rage" and all of its problems.
First, be aware of the stages of stress:
If you see signs of high stress levels and inappropriate behavior in employees, you must intervene. Here are ways managers can combat desk rage and rudeness in the workplace:
Laura Stack is a certified speaking professional and trainer based in Denver. Her upcoming book, Leave the Office Earlier, will be released by Broadway Books in spring 2004. She can be reached via her web site at
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