“Desk Rage” in America the Latest Trend?

Ellen Wulfhorst of Reuters recently published a story on the growing incidence of “desk rage” in America. The article discusses the increase in “grumpy, insulting, short-tempered or worse” behavior in the American workplace. Some of the statistics quoted:

* Nearly half of US workers report yelling and verbal abuse on the job.
* Roughly a quarter say the abuse has driven them to tears.
* One-sixth of workers reported anger at work that led to property damage.
* One-tenth reported physical violence and fear their workplace at work.
* 88% think incivility is rising at work.

Anna Maravelas, author of “How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress,” says, “Rudeness, impatience, people being angry – we used to do that kind of stuff at home but at work, we were professional. Now it’s almost becoming trendy to do it at work.”

The article concludes with a comment from Paul Spector, a professor of industrial and organizational psychology at the University of South Florida:
"Companies pay dearly in terms of lost productivity, sagging morale and higher absenteeism. The worst cases end in violence. Somebody didn't just come to work one day and shoot somebody. There's probably been a pattern of less extreme behaviors leading up to it."

If it’s become “trendy” to engage in such anger-based behavior at work, and we are noticing “patterns of behavior” leading up to it, then I believe we can establish a new “trendy” behavior and far healthier patterns.

Why not make it trendy in your organization to say “thank you?” Why not establish patterns of appreciation? If you transform the very culture of your organization in this way, those who do not fit the mold – those exhibiting “desk rage” – will either choose to leave or be shown the exit. This is especially true if KPIs or MBOs are put in place to encourage achievement of recognition targets.

We do have power over our emotions and our workplaces. We just need to reclaim it. And in the process, we will make our people feel safer in their work and, according to Spector, increase our bottom-line while we’re at it.

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