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Getting Angry Can Get You Promoted

In one of a series of research studies on anger by Stanford researchers Larrissa Tiedens, tested, 24 employees at a Palo Alto software company; each worker received a list of coworkers and a list of emotions. They had to rate how often their colleagues expressed anger. At the same time, the group manager filled out a questionnaire indicating how likely he would be likely to promote each of the employees. The degree to which people were rated by coworkers as expressing a lot of anger predicted the degree to which the manager said he would promote them—that is, the more angry, the more likely to be promoted. Oh my gosh! Start yelling right now! While you are at it, stomp your foot a few times.

In another study, Tiedens had MBA students watch a video clip of a job interview. The applicant was asked to describe a negative event, such as an office presentation that went wrong. In one case, the applicant exuded anger about the event. In another tape, the applicant said he felt guilty and sad that people had been let down. The MBA students were asked if they would hire the applicant they had just seen. They were equally willing to hire both applicants, but they slotted the one who displayed anger for a higher-level, higher-paying job than the applicant who showed sadness. This is bizarre news to me as a professional speaker. And I teach presentation skills. I guess I need to teach everyone if you want to increase your income you need to have a bad speech, then get mad about it and stay mad all the way to the bank.

Not only did Tiedens research subjects say that angry people are more highly competent they said those expressing sadness or guilt are viewed as likable and warm, though not chosen for leadership. Why? Tiedens believes her subjects, “Are making the decisions about who will get status based not on socio-emotional characteristics such as warmth and likeability, but on competence characteristics." Anger is powerful. Anger gets its way. If you have read or been through my DISC personality training you remember the "Driver" or "Get it Done" type doesn’t care about people only the task. The corporate world rewards results."Get it Dones" will yell and scream to get things done as soon as possible. Anger gets its way fast. It is a time saver. Driver personalities think being nice takes too much time! In Corporations time is money. So Drivers are often rewarded.

Think about what nice people do. They stew about it. They think inside their heads of the perfect way they should have said. They call or email their friends to discuss it and complain about it. Those methods not only take time they do not deal directly with the person or the issue. Here is the big insight for nice people. Those actions do not produce results.

My advice to all you nice folks out thereā€¦no it’s not to get mad. My advice is to communicate. You don’t have to get angry; you just need to be assertive. Say what you want or don’t want out loud. Use your verbal and your nonverbal communication to the person who can fulfill your request. Be powerful and be fast. Act Quickly. Right now think of something you want. Perhaps you want a project from your boss, an assignment from a co-worker, more money, a call from your sweetie, or someone to stop doing something you don’t like. Now go to that person and ask for it. You can use a nice warm voice, but if that doesn’t work it is important stand strong use a slightly louder firmer voice and say it again. Be assertive not aggressive. Use the phrase “This is important.” If it still doesn’t work insist on it. Use the phrase, “This needs to happen.” Or “This needs to happen immediately.” You nice people will think this is too radical, everybody else however thinks that this is standard operating procedure.

My life has been rich because of kindness. Kindness is a blessing. Yet I have learned that there are times to be strong and take action. You need to live your life out loud. It is true that you catch more flies with honey, but sometimes you get tired of flies and you want the darn honey! So ask for it. And over the next week whether you’re usually the nice guy or gal or the Driver type notice the people around you and how they get their way and decide when it is the right time to be strong!

I will be blogging more about vice of nice and you can find related articles on my website by clicking on the articles page of my website. Let me know what you think of this article. I would love to hear the stories on the costs and benefits of being nice.

"Anger and Advancement versus Sadness and Subjugation: The Effect of Negative Emotion Expressions and Social Status Conferral," Larissa Z. Tiedens, GSB Research Paper #1615, January 2000

"Powerful Emotions: The Vicious Cycle of Social Status Positions and Emotions," Larissa Z. Tiedens, in N. Ashkanasy, C. Hartel, and W. Zerbe (eds.), Emotions in the Workplace: Research, Theory, and Practice, Westport, Conn.: Quorum Books, 2000