The Role of Anger in the Workplace. Unlocking Workplace Emotions wth Professor Donald Gibson

We recently had the pleasure of hosting Professor Donald E. Gibson for our Emotions@Work Learning Series. As the new Dean of Saint Mary's School of Economics and Business Administration and formerly the Dean of O'Malley School of Business at Manhattan College, Professor Gibson brought a wealth of knowledge about workplace emotions, conflict management, and mentoring.

This event was a rare opportunity to learn from Professor Gibson's deep knowledge of emotions at work. He shared some great insights on how emotions like anger can be both helpful and harmful, giving us useful guidance for building healthier emotional cultures in our organisations. We dove into emotional contagion, measuring emotion, expressing authentic vs. strategic emotions and more.

Conversation Highlights:
When is Anger Helpful?

Anger can be a powerful emotion, especially in an organisation where the culture allows for open expression. If people feel they can express some level of anger, it can be more functional. Suppressing anger entirely can lead to negative outcomes. Creating a culture where anger can be expressed constructively is essential for maintaining a healthy workplace environment.

The Message in the Madness

How open is your workplace to expressing anger? Anger is often associated with negative outcomes and aggression, but this isn't always the case. It's important to differentiate between harmful expressions of anger and constructive ones. An open environment where emotions can be discussed can prevent negative behaviours and improve overall communication.

Negative Contagion

Be highly aware of negative emotions and how they can divert us from our goals. A functional emotional culture should be directed towards positive outcomes for the organisation. Understanding and managing negative emotions is crucial to maintaining focus and achieving objectives.

Teams Have Emotions Too

We've often focused on individuals, neglecting the emotions of the team as a whole. The emotional culture of a team is influenced by its leader and can significantly impact performance. It's essential to consider and address team emotions to foster a positive and productive environment.

Expressing Emotions at Work

Expressing emotions at work has traditionally been taboo due to fear of sanctions from peers and leaders. People risk being penalised for showing vulnerability or authentic emotions. However, it's better to discuss these emotions openly rather than letting them fester. Creating a space for emotional expression can lead to a healthier workplace.

Caution with AI Surveillance

The potential for surveillance with AI is high, and we need to be cautious about how it's used to track, measure, and read human emotions. I am highly sceptical of this approach. Using AI for emotional surveillance can lead to privacy concerns and misuse of data. We must be vigilant and critical of how these technologies are implemented.

The Power of Structured Emotional Reflection

There is great power in having people pause and think seriously about their emotions in a structured, game-like manner. This framework of gamification can provide profound insights. It's a simple structure, but the results can be very powerful, helping individuals and teams better understand and manage their emotions.

We invite you to watch the highlights from this session and join the conversation about emotions at work. Whether you're a manager, team leader, or just interested in workplace culture, you'll find valuable insights here.

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