Really Angry and Hate Someone at Work?

Kindness Respect Well-being


Key Point: Being angry or hating someone at work is understandable, but such a waste of precious personal energy and focus. It’s likely that most of you are emotionally well beyond this, but you may want to gently share it with someone who is less enlightened. I like this story about anger: 

“One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. ‘You have no right teaching others,’ he shouted. ‘You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.’

Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man ‘Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?’

The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, ‘It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.’

The Buddha smiled and said, ‘That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.’

‘If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.’”

Cynics might read this and think: “How naïve? Business is for tough-minded people, in a state of simmering anger, that enjoy beating others, including taking revenge and sticking it to your enemies.” And when you watch pop culture, like the very successful TV shows Suits, House of Cards, etc., it causes most “normal” people to wonder. I’m not going to pretend that win/lose behavior involving hateful anger isn’t based on reality. However, in 40 years of business experience, I’ve found that there is much LESS sustainable success related to chasing anger/hate than there is when achieving exceptional results through perusing emotionally balanced, positive collaboration and creating value for as many people as possible. 

Character Moves: 

  1. If you feel anger/hate towards anyone, regardless of how “justified,” acknowledge it and then let go. Focus on value you can create for others, not on how you can “win” by deploying your hate/anger. 
  2. To the extent you can, avoid people that are negative and “punch your anger buttons.” Keep in mind, the most effective leaders learn how to constructively work with all kinds of team members and navigate forward without anger. The ability to divorce your ego from the behavior of others is important. Take the challenge as a personal leadership development experience. (That doesn’t mean that you should allow people to treat you badly and walk all over you but hate/anger is not the answer).   
  3. If you find yourself hateful and angry, focusing on a negative relationship more than creating value, take it as a signal that you are likely on the wrong track. Like the Buddhist story wisely points out: You are only hurting yourself.

Less hate/anger in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I work in a fish bowl, just mere feet away from my boss and four or five co-workers… There’s constant banter, some of it positive, some negative. Our personalities can clash, and it. Can. Get. CHALLENGING at times… Still, anger towards a co-worker would mess up our whole system, and it’s just not worth it… Little breaks, solo walks to Starbucks, or a lap around the office is necessary sometimes… But in that proximity, negativity and misery spread like a contagious disease, so, for your own sake, remember anger isn’t getting your team results or building personal value.

– Garrett 

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis