“Cost of Aggression in employment”- 22 January 2013

Vineet was a competent executive with several years of work experience. He had only one issue which stood him out from the rest- that was his explosive temper. He had to his credit some broken chairs, a table and a nose! Psychologists are all very familiar with explosion disorder –aggression that gets out of control and explodes periodically in the workplace resulting in material damage and destruction even at the slightest provocation. Vineet was given several warnings by his seniors and was cautioned by the company but in vain. Each time he would promise to control himself but could not. Finally he was sacked.

Josh had become arrogant and vain in his dealings with the clients of the company. He was bringing a bad name to the company. Many years ago he was one of the finest newcomers they had and appreciated his good efforts in promoting the brand of the company. But he became a victim of his own pride as success rubbed him on his wrong side. He would get impatient and intolerant with his clients. The reports of complaints began coming in to his seniors slowly. He started losing clients and subsequently business as well for he began offending them. After some warnings he was asked to seek another job.

Take another story of Rakesh, a professionally capable executive who could have risen to the top but whose career got nipped in midway due to his arrogance. With success came gradual unholy habits of social drinking to please the public (giving public relations a bad name), then gradually graduating to drinking to please the self and eventual decline in moral social behaviour. That is when he really lost his senses as his feelings of grandiosity grew with his feelings of indispensability in the organisation. His fantasy of his indispensability -that the organisation cannot do without him and his services made him mighty arrogant- as he started throwing his weight around. He began sort of blackmailing the company emotionally by threatening to leave the job. These frequent threats of leaving were followed one day with a formal letter of resignation by him to the company. Having had enough of his tantrums, already, the senior management decided to accept his letter of resignation. He lost his job. This was contrary to his expectations for he had expected the management to plead him to withdraw his resignation.

Aggression and aggressive behaviour is a serious issue of concern for psychologists. Many studies are being done to authenticate the correlation between angry behaviour and employment. Recent studies show that there is a strong correlation between aggressive behaviour and the frequency at which jobs are changed and the frequency with which such people are fired from jobs. Therefore aggression has a significant impact on the work, the workplace and job.

This is an important dimension of personality. How one deals with one’s frustrations, disappointments, rejections, negative feelings, success and complex relationships with others is a matter of emotional maturity. Many would be incompetent to handle such negative emotions in their lives and deal with them effectively. They might tend to blame others or blame the situation for their bad feelings or failures and keep externalising their anger. They not only vitiate the atmosphere by spreading negativity, encouraging hostility but also teach others to interpret things in an irrational and lop sided manner.

Emotional control and emotional maturity is being recognised as more important than intellectual prowess. A very competent and effective employee on the job may lose out in promotions and achievement only due to his bad temperament. A very ordinary human being with average skills may zoom to the top with his high emotional quotient. This cannot be attributed to his good public relations skills but so many other facets of his personality which spring into force with a high emotional quotient. To just talk of anger at this juncture we would conclude to say that anger does no good to anyone including the one who brandishes it.

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