“Anger is only one letter short of danger.” -Anonymous
Steven Slater is a JetBlue Flight Attendant who had 28 years of service when he snapped. Kudos to him for sticking it out so long – Not. His actions on August 9, 2010 when he cursed out a passenger over the plane’s public address system, grabbed a couple of beers, then opened the emergency slide hatch and slid away, showed he had been on the job with unresolved issues way too long.
Stunts like this don’t just surface with the advent of an unruly passenger; they build up over time and culminate into explosive outbursts, tantrums, and dangerous reactions. The sigh of relief in Slater’s incident is that the whole shenanigan took place on the ground instead of in the air. However, that does not excuse the danger of the situation and the trauma it may have caused some passengers; especially those with a fear of flying or children on the flight.
Slater is being hailed a hero by some and has garnered such a strong fan base that TMZ reports he has been offered a reality TV show. However, this situation along with the shooting spree at Hartford Distributors less than a week before, highlight the real and present dangers that lurk inside the workplace when the emotional and mental well-being of employees is not properly addressed both by employers and employees themselves.
As an employee, here are steps you can take before you become the next Steven Slater:
1. Take stress breaks which include power naps during the day, if possible, lunch breaks away from the office, and using ALL of your vacation time and personal days.
2. Speak up when you are feeling overwhelmed, discriminated against, bullied or burned out; don’t just vent to family members, friends, and co-workers, go to your company’s human resources department. If you get no help there, seek outside counsel; in some cases your unaddressed concerns may be grounds for a lawsuit.
3. Be proactive by engaging professional help through your employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or an outside counselor who specializes in workplace-stress-related matters.
4. Have a life outside of work. When not at work engage in things you enjoy such as spending time with family and friends, pursuing a hobby, or exercising to stay healthy and ease the stress of the workweek.
5. Look for a new job! Yes, there is a recession and unemployment rates are at an all time high, but don’t let this stop you from circulating your resume because this is where you may eventually end up if you have an outburst and are fired. If the thought of leaving the company during these tough times scares you, start your job search internally by keeping your eyes and ears open for new opportunities. Work your network and get a move on.
These are just a few steps you can implement to manage your well-being at work before it is too late. Don’t let workplace anger build up and put you, and those around you, in danger.
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