Settling Workplace Anger with Compassion, Not Punishment

Grace Lopez

Tension exists in every work environment, from fast food restaurants to high end financial institutions. Escaping the tension is virtually impossible, but recent studies have shown that a little compassion may help to improve the attitude of angry workers. Punishment and apathy, on the other hand, may not be productive at all, at least according to the studies. This research was conducted by Temple University’s Fox School of Business, located in Philadelphia. The results of their tests could lead to positive changes in the work force if they prove to be true.

Settling Workplace Anger with CompassionIn essence, this study was aimed to see how to best resolve problems in the work space, either through punishment, compassion, or lack of action. 194 people participated in the study, and all of them had seen angry outbursts in their work places. The results of the study showed that there was no apparent correlation between employees getting fired and solving existing problems, but there was a correlation between compassion and a reduction in workplace tension. Businesses that had understanding, compassionate, or even mildly interested management teams saw less tension in the workplace over time.

The idea behind all of this is that managers who showed compassion were able to get to the root of the problem and correct it quickly, where as punishing or unresponsive managers would allow a problem to fester and grow longer than it needed to. The quicker a problem in the workforce can be resolved, the better chance the business has of succeeding. Less time, money, and overall resources have to be spent on resolving problems, leaving people with a greater opportunity to be productive.

While this research published in “Human Relations” may not yield a significant impact in the work force right away, over time it may serve as a new addition to management training, which, up until now has focused on rectifying situations through lectures and stern actions. Compassion may be characteristic of “push over” behavior, but it this case, it could actually give a person more authority because he or she understand the workplace from the ground up. The more informed a manager is about his or her business, the better the business can succeed.

If you are a manager of a business or simply want to find a way to reduce the amount of tension in your workplace, you may want to show some interest in the tense parties so that you can see where the real problem lies. If there is an issue that can easily be mended, work at correcting the problem so that everyone can work with a clear mind and a pleasant attitude. This will inevitably make the workspace more enjoyable to be in.