Thursday, January 04, 2007

What Makes it OK to Rage at Work??

I've worked at big companies and startups. Young companies and old. In no way a representative sample, but enough to taste different styles. And one question always intrigued me: What makes people visibly mad at others when at work?

There's two parts to this:

  • What makes people mad?
  • What makes it OK to show you are mad?

Both are interesting and I suspect understanding either would make for a more productive--and pleasant--workplace and group dynamic. But I'm so far from really understanding either that I'm combining them for now. Maybe it's simple and I'm just missing that simplicity: Bad stuff happens. People are human. They get madPublish and show it. But I think there's more. Anger…really getting mad at someone…seems tied to one of three things (am I missing some?):

  1. Intention (undermining you, your job, or the company)
  2. Incompetence (how could you not know?!)
  3. Negligence (why are you here if you don't care?)

If those aren't involved and something just goes wrong, say rain at an outdoor product launch, the stock tanks just before a merger, a good sales or marketing or product development plan goes south, etc., then you're still not happy…but it's not the same sort of focused rage. And it doesn't seem to come out with as much noise and fury.

If you have thoughts on this, email me or comment. I'm going to keep trying to tease out more, but I suspect at minimum, it may help me to try to figure out which of the three aspects above is a contributor--whether I'm the angry one or not. ;-)


Sharon said...

For most of my career life (I am now self-employed), I've always held mid-management jobs. My biggest pet peeve has always been incompetence. One rule I've always adhered to, is as long as it doesn't affect my job responsibilities, they can be as incompetent as they want to be. But the minute, it affects my job, my clients, and my files, they just better stay away from me.

Dox O'Ryan said...

Seems like a great rule. My only follow-up question is: how do you choose to display your reaction. When you say "they just better stay away from me", does this tend toward visible anger or more sedately, professionally crushing them out of existence. ;-)

Add to Technorati Favorites