A provocative new article challenges the traditional view of workplace anger suggesting that a good outcome can result, if the event is handled in the correct manner.
In the article, Dr. Deanna Geddes, a Temple University Fox School of Business professor, posits that even intense emotional outbursts can prove beneficial if responded to with compassion.
Geddes argues that more supportive responses by managers and co-workers after displays of deviant anger can promote positive change at work, while sanctioning or doing nothing does not.
“When companies choose to sanction organizational members expressing deviant anger,” the researchers write, “these actions may divert attention and resources from correcting the initial, anger-provoking event that triggered the employee’s emotional outburst.”
In a study of 194 people who acknowledged witnessing an incident of deviant anger at work, the researchers found no connection between firing an irate employee and solving underlying workplace problems.
The researchers also found that even a single act of support by a manager or co-worker and the angered employee can lessen workplace tension.
Interestingly, managers who recognize their potential role in angering an employee “may be motivated to respond more compassionately to help restore a favorable working relationship,” the researchers wrote in the journal Human Relations.
If management shows “an active interest in addressing underlying issues that prompted employee anger, perceptions of improved situations increase significantly,” the researchers wrote.
“Business codes of conduct are often about what we shouldn’t do as an angry employee in emotional episodes, while few, if any, tend to address our role as observers of emotional episodes,” according to the article.
“Such guidelines, if available, could expand to include positive suggestions for those who witness, judge and respond to angry employees — formally or informally.”
“Some of the most transformational conversations come about through expressed anger,” Geddes said.
Source: Temple University