Do you dread going to work because you just KNOW someone’s going to lash out? According to Netscape news, fully half of all workers are on the receiving end of so much yelling that it’s considered verbal abuse, and 25% say it’s so bad, it’s driven them to tears. Welcome to the age of desk rage. Anger in the workplace is now common. Blame it on everything from big egos to bad manners to job stress. Whatever the reason, the effect’s the same: A bunch of irritable, disrespectful employees and bosses who think nothing of yelling and screaming at each other.
Paul Spector, a professor of industrial psychology at the University of South Florida, says desk rage affects millions of workers, but people aren’t just raising their voices and slamming doors - some are really losing control. One-sixth of workers have suffered property damage, while 10% have reported physical violence. Only 3% of U.S. workers have actually admitted to pushing, slapping or hitting someone at work, but that still translates to as many as 3 million people.
John Challenger is the head of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a workplace consulting company. He says between long commutes, high gas prices and personal problems, people are often ready for a fight once they get to work. That’s when rational thinking goes out the window.
So who’s most likely to lash out? Overachievers. The smart, driven, goal-oriented personalities who set impossibly high standards for themselves and others. Experts say they’re so invested in success, and in everyone being just as driven as they are, that they lose their sense of perspective - and control. The cost to companies is steep. At the very least, desk rage results in lost productivity, poor morale and higher absenteeism. At worst, it ends in physical violence, and sometimes death.
The solution? We need to bring “professionalism” back to the workplace. We need to stop raising our voices and lashing out at others. If we don’t treat our colleagues with respect, we can’t expect it in return. If you’d like to go further, check out How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress.