Anger in the Workplace: Understanding the Causes of Aggression and Violence

Article excerpt

Anger in the Workplace: Understanding the Causes of Aggression and Violence by Seth Allcorn (Quorum Books, 1994)

Reviewer: Krupa Subramanian, University of Pennsylvania

Evidenced by media reports in recent years, violence in the workplace appears to be a common occurrence, regardless of industry. Given the resulting liability and workers' compensation costs, addressing anger in the workplace becomes increasingly significant for risk managers. This book provides an extensive discussion of this issue, supplemented with mini case studies.

The book is organized into two complementary sections. Part I presents a comprehensive review of the theoretical literature on anger and aggression. This distinction between anger and aggression is emphasized. Anger represents the emotion felt by an individual while aggression is defined as the "socially disapproved of overt or covert behavior that promises to reduce anxiety and restore safety, control and self-esteem." Recognizing and dealing with anger before aggression arises should be the aim in the workplace. A model of anger and one of aggression is presented in Chapter 1 and further explained in the chapters following. The existence of anger is explained from three different viewpoints: as a psychological response, physiological arousal or as a form of socialization or learning.

Identifying the many possible origins of anger is the focus of Chapter 2. Such anger-provoking situations as humiliation or verbal abuse and neglect represent those arising from the social origins of anger. Individuals may also release anger as a psychological defense; for example, anger arising from personal relationships may be displaced into anger in the workplace. The author emphasizes that anger can be beneficial when communicated in a constructive, positive manner and as such, presents rules for effective communication of anger, beneficial for both managers and employees. …