2 March 2009

If you want to get ahead in the workplace... get angry

An interesting follow-up to my blog from last week on employment came from a report in the Daily Mail today. The article stated that those employees who let their anger out rather than bottling it up can actually help advance their career. Psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School in the States measured how the careers of 824 individuals had progressed over the past 44 years, while assessing their personalities and coping tactics. Those who tended to repress their frustrations were at least three times more likely to admit they had hit a glass ceiling in their careers. They also admitted to having more disappointing personal lives.

Professor George Vaillant said "People think of anger as a terribly dangerous emotion and are encouraged to practise 'positive thinking', but we find that approach is self-defeating and ultimately a damaging denial of dreadful reality. We all feel anger, but individuals who learn how to express their anger while avoiding the explosive and self-destructive consequences of unbridled fury have achieved something incredibly powerful in terms of overall emotional growth and mental health."

Dr Howard Kassinove wrote a study which concluded that over 55% of subjects said that an angry episode produced a positive outcome. "People who are targets of anger in these studies will say things like 'I really understand the other person much better now - I guess I wasn't listening before'," he said. "While assertive expression is always preferable to angry expression, anger may serve an important alerting function that leads to deeper understanding of the other person and the problem."
Having blogged on Bitterness for a while last year, I get warning bells in the back of my head when I read this. How can any good come from such a dangerously negative emotion like anger? Trust me from one who knows - anger shouldn't be expressed or repressed - it needs to be dealt with.

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