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Anger as a Tool

September 7, 2011

I’ve been thinking lately about people losing their cool in the workplace. First, someone did it to me. Then a week later I lost my cool in a meeting I was in. In the first instance, the person was very senior to me. And I’m used to getting yelled it, and this was pretty tame by comparison. I had been wondering whether middle managers tended to reflect the anger shown to them by their superiors back on their employees when I unintentionally went off on an angry rant about a week after that. I wasn’t intending to have a single person be the target of my anger, but one person did consider themselves to be.

The weird thing is, that person is also very senior to me. And they acted contrite and apologetic about it later. Like because my anger was "justified" that I was in the right. Now whether I was right or now, or whether the person who chewed me out before was right (we both were) seems sort of immaterial to me. I don’t think anger in the workplace, especially when directed at an individual, is very appropriate. But it seems like it is a mechanism that managers use to get things done. And it seems in this case it got me taken more seriously. I expected to get blamed for it, accused of being "emotional" as we women often are anytime we show an inkling of passion in our work and a superior wants to cut us down a level. But instead, it fit right in with the culture and the usual methods that people seem to use in this business.

So I guess my question is, can anger be an effective tool in the workplace? Or is it always out of line?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    September 12, 2011 9:27 pm

    I would be careful using anger. Even if it works temporarily, you will soon pick up the reputation of being an angry worker. And, being a woman, your anger will make you look like a “bitch”, especially in a male work culture.

  2. chall permalink
    September 15, 2011 9:27 am

    well, it’s like most things though isn’t it? Anger can get things done right away and done – however, in the long run people will resent you and not want to be involved with you since “you’re angry and not nice”, nevermind “being in the right or not”.

    This said, I’ve lost my cool a few times since some things are just _that annoying and unacceptable_. I’ve never directed my anger towards one person though, so it’s been more “I am ANGRY and this will not do” – and it seems to be much more accepted?!

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