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Practical ways To Manage Workplace Aggression

15 April 2019 Blog

Workplace aggression is a specific type of aggression which occurs in the workplace. Workplace aggression can include a wide range of behaviors, ranging from verbal acts (e.g., insulting someone or spreading rumors) to physical attacks (e.g., punching or slapping).

If you are one of those who usually suffer Monday morning blues,it could be that you have been a victim or are currently dealing with a situation in this regard,I hope you find this useful and helpful , and if you do,i hope too that you pass it on,here goes

Aggression can occur in a variety of situations. One important domain to understand aggression is in the workplace. Workplace aggression is considered a specific type of  counterproductive work behaviour (CWB) and is defined as “any act of aggression, physical assault, threatening or coercive behavior that causes physical or emotional harm in a work setting.”

To delineate the range of behaviors that can be considered aggressive workplace behaviors, researchers have developed schemes of classification for workplace aggression. Neuman and Baron (1998) offer these three dimensions that encompass the range of workplace aggression:

  1. Expressions of hostility – behaviors that are primarily verbal or symbolic in nature
  2. Obstructionism– behaviors intended to hinder an employee from performing their job or the organization from accomplishing its objectives
  3. Overt aggression – violent acts

In an attempt to further break down the wide range of aggressive workplace behaviors, Baron and Neuman (1996) also classify workplace aggression based on these three dichotomies:

  1. Verbal–physical
  2. Direct–indirect
  3. Active–passive[

Aggressive acts can take any possible combination of these three dichotomies. For example, failing to deny false rumors about a coworker would be classified as verbal–passive–indirect. Purposely avoiding the presence of a coworker you know is searching for your assistance could be considered physical–passive–direct.

Other researchers offer a classification system based on the aggressor’s relationship to the victim.[

  1. Criminal intent (Type I) – this type of aggression occurs when the aggressor has no relationship to the victim or organization.
  2. Customer/client (Type II) – the aggressor has a relationship with the organization and aggresses while they are being served as a customer.
  3. Worker on worker (Type III) – both the aggressor and the victim are employees in the same organization. Often, the aggressor is a supervisor, and the victim is a subordinate.
  4. Personal relationship (Type IV) – the aggressor has a relationship with an employee at an organization, but not the organization itself. This category includes victims who are assaulted by a domestic partner while at work. In all,it a no-no, must be stopped in its tracks if possible in order to avoid the following possible outcomes by all means

Sad Outcomes Of Workplace Aggression

Like the array of behaviors considered workplace aggression, the consequences of workplace aggression are also extensive. For example, Ng and Feldman suggest that “acts of workplace aggression can cause bodily harm to employees, pose physical danger for customers, create public relations crises, and harm the business reputation of the firm as a whole.

Severity of the repercussions may be influenced by the position of the aggressor. Hershcovis and Barling found that “…supervisor aggression has the strongest adverse effects across attitudinal and behavioral outcomes”, followed by co-worker aggression and outsider aggression.[

Health and well-beingE

Workplace aggression can have devastating effects on an organization’s employees. For example, it has been found that targets of workplace aggression report lower levels of  well-being Other studies have shown that aggression in the workplace can cause the victims of such behaviors to suffer from health problems and displaced aggression – including perpetuating aggression towards random strangers in the street. 

It, also has a negative effect on team performances,employee Job satisfaction, varying between genders, women being the worst hit where it involves sexual aggression

Prevention And Management

Prevention programs focus on reducing instances of workplace aggression. Programs that incorporate personnel selection, organizational sanctions, and training are recommended.

Personnel selectionE

Based on a workplace prevention program developed by the United States Postal Service (USPS), Neuman and Baron encourage organizations to use personnel screening and testing to identify potential employees who are likely to behave aggressively before they are even hired. This proactive strategy prevents individuals who are predisposed to aggress from even entering the workplace.[

Organizational sanctionsE

Explicit policies regarding workplace aggression may help organizations to reduce aggression. Employees who perceived that their organization would punish workplace aggressors reported less workplace aggression even when their perceptions of interpersonal justice were high. Neuman and Baron also suggest using organizational policies to curb workplace aggression and to shape strong anti-aggressive organizational norms.[


This is also an important part of a prevention program. Neuman and Baron suggest that training for both supervisors and subordinates should focus on teaching employees methods for dealing with aggression. Similarly, Rai advises that appropriate training should inform employees that management takes threats seriously, encourage employees to report incidents, and demonstrate management’s commitment to deal with reported incidents.[

Organizational supportE

Organizational support can influence the effects of workplace aggression. Schat and Kelloway isolated two forms of organizational support: instrumental and informational. Instrumental support refers to providing some type of assistance directly to an afflicted individual, whereas information support refers to providing employees with self-help informational resources.

Goodluck Everyone


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