Negative emotions in workplace can lead to positive outcomes

Recently published research has shown that having negative feelings in the workplace can be positive, while having positive feelings in the workplace can be negative.

Dirk Lindebaum, PhD, of the management school at the University of Liverpool, and Peter J. Jordan, of Griffith University, reviewed studies that explored the roles of emotion in the workplace. They selected five articles for publication that covered the themes when it can be good to feel bad; when it can be bad to feel good; and when it simultaneously can be good to feel bad and bad to feel good.

Researchers found anger can be used as a force for good through acting upon injustices and can be considered good if motivated by perceived violations or moral standards, the prevention of injustices from repeating themselves in the future. Results also showed being too positive in the workplace can lead to complacency and superficiality rather than the promotion of general well-being and greater productivity, while negativity can have a good affect within team situations by leading to less consensus and greater discussion and enhancing team effectiveness. Finally, individuals who provide support to individuals in times of emotional distress can be negatively affected by this line of work by being shunned in social situations, according to results.

“The findings of the studies published in this Special Issue challenge the widely held assumption that in the workplace positive emotions generate or engender a positive outcome, and vice versa,” Lindebaum stated in a press release.

For more information:

Lindebaum D. Human Relations. 2014;doi:10.1177/0018726714535824.

Disclosure: Jordan received funding from the Australian Research Council Discovery Grant Project.

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