How to Handle an Angry Employee

March 13th, 2020

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

How to Handle an Angry Employee. Anger Outbursts at Work: Compassion is the Best Remedy

Happy Employees are retained employees

Do you know how to handle an angry employee? Contrary to popular belief, anger episodes in the workplace could be a good thing. In some cases, anger outbursts in the workplace might be a catalyst for inevitable changes that are important for the well-being and productivity of everyone in the workplace.

Moreover, Dr. Deanna Geddes, chair of the Fox School’s Human Resources argues that anger outbursts in the workplace could be a good thing. However, there is one caveat to this research. Before you have a violent outburst toward your boss, the anger outburst must be followed with compassion and support to have positive results. If the anger outburst is punished or put to a stop, it does not offer the same results. Further, researchers suggest that sanctioning the anger outbursts or putting a stop to it does not keep the attention on the original event that triggered the anger outburst.

A study conducted with194 individuals that admitted to witnessing an angry or violent outburst in the workplace found no association between firing the employee and correcting the workplace problems that might have triggered the original outburst. The researchers in this study found that just a simple act of compassion was the best remedy for treating the underlying work issue. When a manager accepts their piece of responsibility for contributing to the workplace outburst, they might be more motivated to help mend their workplace relationship as a means of reducing hostility. Researchers are attempting to embrace the normality of business creating a code of how observers should react when witnessing an anger outburst. Most businesses have a code of regulations for how an angry employee should or should not act, but rarely have rules for how a witnessing boss should react. Dr. Geddes states, “Anger has been a catalyst for some of the most transformational conversations.” (Article was written by Psychology Researcher and UNF Graduate, Reema Sabeela.)

Luca Passamonti, Molly J. Crockett, Annemieke M. Apergis-Schoute, Luke Clark, James B. Rowe, Andrew J. Calder, Trevor W. Robbins. Effects of Acute Tryptophan Depletion on Prefrontal-Amygdala Connectivity While Viewing Facial Signals of Aggression. Biological Psychiatry, 13 September 2011 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.07.033

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