Can Being Angry At Work Make You More Productive? This Study Says Yes

Normalising anger at work and using it as a tool can have some positive outcomes.

It’s often said that anger is a dangerous emotion that makes it difficult for us to make good decisions and get things done. People are especially advised to maintain a calm demeanour at work and maintain a harmonious office environment. However, a new study by the American Psychological Association has revealed that anger could actually be a powerful motivator for being productive and achieving our goals, Metro reported. 

According to the research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, anger elicited the best performance compared to joy, sadness, or neutrality. The researchers focused on anger because it is believed to ”help achieve goals when faced with challenges,” the study noted.

For the study, behaviour of 1,000 participants was tested, and the results showed that anger improved people’s ability to reach their goals across all experiments.

”People often believe that a state of happiness is ideal, and the majority of people consider the pursuit of happiness a major life goal. The view that positive emotion is ideal for mental health and well-being has been prominent in lay and psychological accounts of emotion, but previous research suggests that a mix of emotions, including negative emotions like anger, result in the best outcomes,” lead author Heather Lench said in a press release.

As per the research, normalising anger at work and using it as a tool can have some positive outcomes. 

”From a business perspective, it is also really important to recognise that anger and frustration with the status quo is a huge tool for innovation and creativity. Recognising what it is you are angry about in the workplace and what you want to challenge with temerity can help you realise the power of your own voice,” Nicola Kemp, lead facilitator at Good Shout told Metro. 

Another life coach Natale Trice told Metro that anger is a signal from the body that we need to act on something. The key is to channel the anger in an efficient way and make it work for you. 

”The reality is that rather than letting the anger lead to explosive outbursts, using hurtful names and words or sulking, consider how you can use that surge of anger as a superpower for success,” Ms Trice. 

However, some experts stress that this is only the case for short-lived anger. While anger may motivate short-term goals, long-term frustrations are not likely to have the same impact.

NYU psychologist Dr. Yamalis Diaz told Fox News, ”The findings potentially suggest new ways we can help people think about channeling negative emotional states into adaptive/functional behavior.”

However, she also talked about the study’s “limited practical implications”.

”It has long been understood that when someone is a little activated by arousal/stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, it sharpens attention and focus – while too much or prolonged exposure to activation would be detrimental to cognitive/adaptive functioning. I think studies like this do help us think about how to better understand links between emotions and behaviours, but we need to be careful about over-interpreting the results. But hey, a little negative emotion being channeled into positive goals is a positive thing,” she said. 



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