Workplace: Hangry

Workplace: covers the issues and activities of managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives. Together, let’s explore what affects us every day (or some days) that we go to work.

Hangry came into my vocabulary a few years ago when faced with someone who became happy and easy-going as soon as she ate. Hangry is when someone is so hungry that anger is the result. Thus hangry. You likely know people at work, and at home too, who get hangry. The good news is that solutions abound.

The key to helping a hangry-likely person is to recognize the hanger coming on. In other words, at the first signs of edginess, offer to take a break so everyone can “get a snack” or “recharge” or “get something to eat.” Not everyone will take you up on this offer because not everyone will need food. Hopefully the likely-to-get-hangry person will respond and get him/herself something to eat. If your offer isn’t recognized and acted-upon, during the break you’ve now created, offer the person a snack from your stash (that you keep on hand for such occasions).

If you’ve missed the window to address the hanger, you may get push-back such as “I’m not hungry.” At which point you are faced with an HR and performance issue. Contact your human resources team to learn what supports can be provided, what the options are for addressing a concern that is now affecting the person and the team.

I know, as team leader or as supervisor, you shouldn’t have to manage the hangry person in this way. However, there are times when the hangry person doesn’t even realize what is happening and needs someone else to lead the way back to not-hangry. Demonstrating calm, problem-solving skills will hopefully help the hangry person solve the immediate problem and to address the bigger issue of preventing hangry behaviors in the future.

You’ve likely seen the commercial for candy that plays on the hangry concept. It says: “I’m just not myself when I’m hungry.” It’s true, the hangry person isn’t behaving this way on purpose. Hanger can happen due to medical reasons, blood-sugar crashes or spikes, or for no known reason. Empathy is important when hangry behaviors appear. Empathy will be more likely to help solve the problem than punishment or a return-volley of anger or frustration.

Keep yourself nourished to avoid being hangry. Encourage others to stay nourished to avoid hangry behavior. Less hanger makes for more productivity.

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