I work in a highly charged target-driven environment with tight deadlines. Sometimes I explode with anger at colleagues or subordinates in order to get the job done. Is this contrary to my Christian faith or simply part of my work?
Catholic moral theology talks of the “passions”, those feelings and affections which are part of our psyche and “incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil.” (Catechism 1762) These feelings in themselves are neither good nor evil but they can contribute to our choice of good or evil. Put simply, we cannot always help how we feel, but we can decide what to do with those feelings.
In your workplace, it is a good thing to meet targets and deadlines and it is possible that someone acting badly or negligently may interfere with this good, thus giving a just cause for reasonable anger. However we all know that because we are not Jesus Christ, and we are affected by original and actual sin, our anger is usually mixed with selfishness, and is often an over-reaction, taking out our own frustrations on others. I think that most respected writers on management would counsel that being angry is not normally the best way to get things done, even if we could justify it morally. You also need to consider whether your behaviour would bring about an action for bullying. Even if such an action were not successful, the time and expense involved would defeat the good object that is sought, of meeting targets efficiently.
Therefore in general it is best to form a strategy for dealing with angry feelings in such a way that they energise you to work efficiently without bearing down on others. If you do “explode”, you need to assess things once you have calmed down, and make sincere and genuine apologies where appropriate. If you over-reacted, it helps to admit this in humility, perhaps making joke at your own expense, acknowledging your foolishness. In a highly-charged environment, peace and determination will generally get things done more efficiently than exploding in a rant.
Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
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