Making Your Co-Workers Angry Could Haunt You

Lying, Cheating, and Unjust Criticism Are Top Complaints

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 13, 2004
From the WebMD Archives

Jan. 13, 2004 -- Making your co-workers angry could come back to haunt you. A new study shows anger at the workplace is widespread but so is revenge.

Researchers found people get most angry about immoral behavior at work, such as cheating, lying, or stealing, and when they are treated unjustly with too much work or excessive criticism.

But the study also showed that making colleagues angry may also have negative consequences for the offender. The most common reaction to irritating behavior was to dole out some form of unofficial punishment, such as gossiping and telling lies about the offender or giving them undesirable jobs.

Anger in the Workplace

The results of the study were presented this week at the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

Researchers interviewed 24 men and women in both management and non-management positions in a variety of workplaces to determine what made them mad at work and what they did about it.

In addition to immoral behavior and unjust treatment, the study showed other common causes of anger at the workplace include:

  • Others' job incompetence
  • People being disrespectful, such as rudeness or arrogance
  • Failure to communicate
  • Exclusion of others


Researchers also found that prolonged exposure to anger at work can lead to people considering leaving their jobs and allowing the anger to affect their home life.

Those findings suggest that anger at work may have long as well as short-term consequences for both the individual as well as their place of employment. Therefore, researchers say taking steps to identify causes of anger in the workplace and reduce it may be worthwhile for all concerned.

WebMD Health News


SOURCES: British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, Jan. 7-9, 2004. News release, The British Psychological Society.

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