Muted Anger in the Workplace: Changing the 'Sound' of Employee Emotion Through Social Sharing
Deanna Geddes, Lisa T. Stickney, "Chapter 3 Muted Anger in the Workplace: Changing the "Sound" of Employee Emotion Through Social Sharing", Neal M. Ashkanasy, Charmine E.J. Härtel, Wilfred J. Zerbe, in (ed.) Experiencing and Managing Emotions in the Workplace (Research on Emotion in Organizations,
Posted: 13 Feb 2016
Date Written: 2012
This study is a preliminary effort to examine "muted anger" in the workplace. Muted anger is a unique interpersonal and organizational phenomenon, incorporated in the Dual Threshold Model (DTM) of workplace anger (Geddes & Callister, 2007). Characterized as a form of suppressed workplace anger, muted anger occurs when angry organizational members intentionally keep their anger hidden from management and those responsible for the problematic situation, and instead express their emotions to colleagues (and others) unrelated to the initial anger-provoking incident. Using the DTM framework, we surveyed 296 full-time employees regarding their experience with an angry colleague who vented to them after an infuriating event. Our findings indicate that whether or not muted anger episodes can lead to productive communication practices depends on the anger intensity of both the actor and the sympathetic responder as well as the responder's level of organizational commitment. Those who themselves felt moderate anger intensity after hearing their colleague's plight and those with high organizational commitment were more likely to advocate on behalf of their angry colleague and approach management or someone in a responsible position to help address the problematic situation. Those with lower anger intensity and organizational commitment typically discussed the situation with one or two additional, but unrelated persons – expanding the muted anger episode.
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