Workplace Anger Best Dealt With Via Compassion

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2011) — Challenging traditional views of workplace anger, a new article by a Temple University Fox School of Business professor suggests that even intense emotional outbursts can prove beneficial if responded to with compassion.

Workplace anger and online anger management classes
Dr. Deanna Geddes, chair of the Fox School’s Human Resource Management Department, argues that more supportive responses by managers and co-workers after displays of deviant anger can promote positive change at work, while sanctioning or doing nothing does not.

“The trouble with sanctions: Organizational responses to deviant anger displays at work,” co-authored with University of Baltimore’s Dr. Lisa T. Stickney, states that “when companies choose to sanction organizational members expressing deviant anger, these actions may divert attention and resources from correcting the initial, anger-provoking event that triggered the employee’s emotional outburst.”
In a study of 194 people who acknowledged witnessing an incident of deviant anger at work, the researchers found no connection between firing an irate employee and solving underlying workplace problems. Geddes and Stickney also found that even a single act of support by a manager or co-worker and the angered employee can improve workplace tension.

Managers who recognize their potential role in angering an employee “may be motivated to respond more compassionately to help restore a favorable working relationship,” the researchers wrote in the journal Human Relations.
If management shows “an active interest in addressing underlying issues that prompted employee anger, perceptions of improved situations increase significantly,” the researchers wrote.

“Business codes of conduct are often about what we shouldn’t do as an angry employee in emotional episodes, while few, if any, tend to address our role as observers of emotional episodes,” according to the article. “Such guidelines, if available, could expand to include positive suggestions for those who witness, judge and respond to angry employees — formally or informally.”
Workplace compassion as antidote to anger

The findings stem from the Dual Threshold Model of workplace anger expression, which distinguishes between suppressed and deviant anger. Researchers label the space between suppressed and deviant anger as the zone most likely to achieve positive change. The model distinguishes between muted anger — complaints to co-workers and friends who lack the authority to resolve the situation — as the least productive way to prompt change. Geddes created the model with Dr. Ronda Roberts Callister of Utah State University.

“Some of the most transformational conversations come about through expressed anger,” Geddes said.’


Compassion does not occur without self-compassion. One cannot feel compassion for others without first feeling compassion for self. The foundation of compassion is self-compassion.

For more info on the latest tools in the positive psychology of anger management, visit You can get a FREE copy of John’s award-winning book on ways to turn down the volume on negative emotions and turn up the volume on positive emotions by clicking on the yellow book icon and entering your name and email address.

Also, be sure to check out the fantastic blog on positive psychology of anger management at

Have a day filled with compassion!

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder of Guide to Self, Inc.

Award-winning author, anger management coach, blogger, abnormal guy
Journal Reference:

1. D. Geddes, L. T. Stickney. The trouble with sanctions: Organizational responses to deviant anger displays at work. Human Relations, 2010; 64 (2): 201 DOI: 10.1177/0018726710375482

Temple University (2011, April 18). Compassion, not sanctions, is best response to workplace anger. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2011, from¬ /releases/2011/04/110414131853.htm.

Relationships Affected By Your Goals – Better Than Others or Improve Self?

From the magnificent…

John Schinnerer Ph.D. personal goal setting

Your View of Personal Goals Can Affect Your Relationships

ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2010) — How you think about your goalswhether it’s to improve yourself or to do better than others — can affect whether you reach those goals. Different kinds of goals can also have distinct effects on your relationships with people around you, according to the authors of a paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science.

People with “mastery goals” want to improve themselves. Maybe they want to get better grades, make more sales, or land that triple toe loop.

On the other hand, people with what psychologists call “performance goals” are trying to outperform others — to get a better grade than a friend or be Employee of the Year. Both kinds of goals can be useful in different contexts. But P. Marijn Poortvliet, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and Céline Darnon, of France’s Clermont University, are interested in the social context of these goals — what they do to your relationships.

For a FREE copy of the award-winning self-improvement book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, simply visit and enter your name and email address for instant access to your very own PDF copy! Change the world by changing your self! 

Poortvliet’s work focuses on information exchange — whether people are open and honest when they are working together. “People with performance goals are more deceitful” and less likely to share information with coworkers, both in the laboratory and in real-world offices he has studied, Poortvliet says. “The reason is fairly obvious — when you want to outperform others, it doesn’t make sense to be honest about information.”

On the other hand, people who are trying to improve themselves are quite open, he says. “If the ultimate goal is to improve yourself, one way to do it is to be very cooperative with other people.” This can help improve the work environment, even though the people with these goals aren’t necessarily thinking about social relations. “They’re not really altruists, per se. They see the social exchange as a means toward the ends of self improvement.” Other research has found that people with these self-improvement goals are more open to hearing different perspectives, while people with a performance goal “would rather just say, ‘I’m just right and you are wrong.'”

It’s not always bad to be competitive, Poortvliet says. “For example, if you want to be the Olympic champion, of course it’s nice to have mastery goals and you should probably have mastery goals, but you definitely need performance goals because you want to be the winner and not the runner-up.”

But it’s important to think about how goals affect the social environment. “If you really want to establish constructive and long-lasting working relationships, then you should really balance the different levels of goals,” Poortvliet says — thinking not only about each person’s achievement, but also about the team as a whole.

Some people are naturally more competitive than others. But it’s also possible for managers to shift the kinds of goals people have by, for example, giving a bonus for the best employee. That might encourage people to set performance goals and compete against each other. On the other hand, it would also be possible to structure a bonus program to give people rewards based on their individual improvement over time.

Original article can be found by clicking here.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Association for Psychological Science.

Journal Reference:
1. P. Marijn Poortvliet and Céline Darnon. Toward a More Social Understanding of Achievement Goals: The Interpersonal Effects of Mastery and Performance Goals. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2010; 19 (5): 324 DOI: 10.1177/0963721410383246

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.  Excellent blog on the latest anger management tools

Psychologist Shows Why We ‘Choke’ and How to Avoid It

From ScienceDaily…

ScienceDaily (Sep. 27, 2010) — A star golfer misses a critical putt; a brilliant student fails to ace a test; a savvy salesperson blows a key presentation. Each of these people has suffered the same bump in mental processing: They have just choked under pressure.

Greg Norman putting

It’s tempting to dismiss such failures as “just nerves.” But to University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock, they are preventable results of information logjams in the brain. By studying how the brain works when we are doing our best — and when we choke — Beilock has formulated practical ideas about how to overcome performance lapses at critical moments.

“Choking is suboptimal performance, not just poor performance. It’s a performance that is inferior to what you can do and have done in the past and occurs when you feel pressure to get everything right,” said Beilock, an associate professor in psychology.

Preventing choking in sports Some of the most spectacular and memorable moments of choking occur in sports when the whole world is watching. Many remember golfer Greg Norman’s choke at the 1996 U.S. Masters. Norman had played brilliantly for the first three days of the tournament, taking a huge lead. But on the final day, his performance took a dive, and he ended the Masters five shots out of first place.

Choking in such cases happens when the polished programs executed by the brains of extremely accomplished athletes go awry. In “Choke,” Beilock recounts famous examples of these malfunctions in the context of brain science to tell the story of why people choke and what can be done to alleviate it.

Thinking too much about what you are doing, because you are worried about losing the lead (as in Norman’s case) or worrying about failing in general, can lead to “paralysis by analysis.” In a nutshell, paralysis by analysis occurs when people try to control every aspect of what they are doing in an attempt to ensure success.

Unfortunately, this increased control can backfire, disrupting what was once a fluid, flawless performance.

“My research team and I have found that highly skilled golfers are more likely to hole a simple 3-foot putt when we give them the tools to stop analyzing their shot, to stop thinking,” Beilock said. “Highly practiced putts run better when you don’t try to control every aspect of performance.” Even a simple trick of singing helps prevent portions of the brain that might interfere with performance from taking over, Beilock’s research shows.

Preventing choking on tests and in business The brain also can work to sabotage performance in ways other than paralysis by analysis. For instance, pressure-filled situations can deplete a part of the brain’s processing power known as working memory, which is critical to many everyday activities.

Beilock’s work has shown the importance of working memory in helping people perform their best, in academics and in business. Working memory is lodged in the prefrontal cortex and is a sort of mental scratch pad that is temporary storage for information relevant to the task at hand, whether that task is doing a math problem at the board or responding to tough, on-the-spot questions from a client. Talented people often have the most working memory, but when worries creep up, the working memory they normally use to succeed becomes overburdened. People lose the brain power necessary to excel.

One example is the phenomenon of “stereotype threat.” This is when otherwise talented people don’t perform up to their abilities because they are worried about confirming popular cultural myths that contend, for instance, that boys and girls naturally perform differently in math or that a person’s race determines his or her test performance.

Beilock’s research is the basis of her new book, “Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have To,” published Sept. 21 by Simon and Schuster, Free Press.

In Choke, Beilock describes research demonstrating that high-achieving people underperform when they are worried about confirming a stereotype about the racial group or gender to which they belong. These worries deplete the working memory necessary for success. The perceptions take hold early in schooling and can be either reinforced or abolished by powerful role models.

In one study, researchers gave standardized tests to black and white students, both before and after President Obama was elected. Black test takers performed worse than white test takers before the election. Immediately after Obama’s election, however, blacks’ performance improved so much that their scores were nearly equal with whites. When black students can overcome the worries brought on by stereotypes, because they see someone like President Obama who directly counters myths about racial variation in intelligence, their performance improves.

Beilock and her colleagues also have shown that when first-grade girls believe that boys are better than girls at math, they perform more poorly on math tests. One big source of this belief? The girls’ female teachers. It turns out that elementary school teachers are often highly anxious about their own math abilities, and this anxiety is modeled from teacher to student. When the teachers serve as positive role models in math, their male and female students perform equally well.

Meditation and practice can help Even when a student is not a member of a stereotyped group, tests can be challenging for the brightest people, who can clutch if anxiety taps out their mental resources. In that instance, relaxation techniques can help.

In tests in her lab, Beilock and her research team gave people with no meditation experience 10 minutes of meditation training before they took a high-stakes test. Students with meditation preparation scored 87, or B+, versus the 82 or B- score of those without meditation training. This difference in performance occurred despite the fact that all students were of equal ability.

Stress can undermine performance in the world of business, where competition for sales, giving high-stakes presentations or even meeting your boss in the elevator are occasions when choking can squander opportunities.

Practice helps people navigate through these tosses on life’s ocean. But, more importantly, practicing under stress — even a moderate amount — helps a person feel comfortable when they find themselves standing in the line of fire, Beilock said. The experience of having dealt with stress makes those situations seem like old hat. The goal is to close the gap between practice and performance.

A person also can overcome anxiety by thinking about what to say, not what not to say, said Beilock, who added that staying positive is always a good idea.

“Think about the journey, not the outcome,” Beilock advised. “Remind yourself that you have the background to succeed and that you are in control of the situation. This can be the confidence boost you need to ace your pitch or to succeed in other ways when facing life’s challenges.”

University of Chicago (2010, September 27). Psychologist shows why we ‘choke’ and how to avoid it. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 13, 2010, from¬ /releases/2010/09/100925120110.htm

Mindfulness, meditation, stres management techniques, realistic optimism, resiliency, self-compassion, forgiveness, nonattachment are all examples of tools that are learnable and can be used to improve performance in business and in sports. These tools can be used to improve academic performance as well as satisfaction with life.

For a FREE copy of John’s award-winning self-help book that discusses all of these topics in depth, visit and click on the yellow book icon on the left side of the page. In exchange for your email address and name, you will be granted instant access to your very own PDF copy of this invaluable book. Check it out now. It won’t take more than 90 seconds of your time.

All the best,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self

The Missing Link Between Values and Actions

Richard Boyatzis and his colleagues (Boyatzis, R.E., Murphy, A.J., Wheeler, J.V. Philosophy as a missing link between values and behavior. January, 2000) have proposed that each of us uses an underlying philosophy to determine how we behave in relation to our values. Boyatzis suggest three major philosophical systems that are likely to influence an individual’s actions, thoughts, values and feelings in various ways.

These three philosophies are pragmatic, intellectual and humanistic.

A person with a pragmatic outlook looks at the output or consequence of a decision as the key to the perceived value. The desire is to maximize the output relative to the input. Pragmatists focus on the individual and assume that the individual chooses actions based on their own self-interest in order to maximize their benefits. This is akin to rationalizing away any values above and beyond those that work in the favor of self-interest. For example, a pragmatic person might list “family” as a top value, yet spends eighty hours a week away from his family working at his job. He spends as little time as possible at home. He says his behavior is in accordance with his values since he is earning money and providing for his family’s needs. In truth, his behavior is a function of his workaholism. He is addicted to working because he is afraid of intimacy and therefore is uncomfortable at home.

A person with an intellectual philosophy uses his intellect to make most decisions. The intellectual gauges the value of an activity, person or effort by its consistency with a set of rational ideals such as the Ten Commandments or a professional code of ethics.  The intellectual uses logic as the main means to make judgments of value and meaning. An example is the intellectual person who lists “family” as a top value, and spends 55 hours a week at work and evenings and weekends with his family. He is present to help with homework and bedtime. The intellectual interacts with his family rationally and gets irritated when his children are not rational in their response to him. While he spends more time with his family, he is not available emotionally for his children and wife. His behavior is in keeping with his stated value of “family” but the quality of time spent with family members is low due to low emotional and social awareness.

An individual with a humanitarian philosophy views personal relationships as the primary yardstick for judging meaning and value in life. Emotions and actions within the context of a relationship are seen as most important. In particular, family and close friends are the most important of all relationships. People with a humanitarian outlook prize values that emphasize the worth of the individual and interpersonal relationships as the greatest “good.” The worth of an activity or effort is judged in terms of its effect on an individual’s close relationships. For example, the humanitarian lists “family” as his top value and establishes a balance between work and home. He also has a balance between his intellect and his emotions. Thus, when he is home with his family, he is available to them emotionally as well as intellectually.

On the face of it, it seems that a high degree of emotional intelligence is required for an individual to operate based on the humanitarian philosophy. If that is true, then these three philosophies might be related to the degree of IQ and EQ that an individual possesses. For instance, a person with adequate IQ and little EQ is likely to be employing the pragmatic view. And a person with adequate IQ and moderate EQ is probably using the intellectual philosophy. Finally, a person with adequate IQ and a high EQ is likely to use the humanitarian outlook.

Boyatzis states that no one philosophy is “better” than another. Hi belief is that the philosophies merely drive the individual’s behaviors, thoughts and emotions in different ways.

What If One Philosophy Is Better Than Another?

While Boyatzis has made great progress in clarifying part of the mystery connecting values and behaviors, I believe that these philosophies are hierarchical and developmental in nature. This means that one philosophy is better than another.

My model states that all of us start out as children with a pragmatic or self-centered philosophy. Assuming a normal developmental path, we eventually learn the intellectual philosophy and adopt it as the primary means by which to evaluate our actions, thoughts and feelings. For those of us who continue to learn, grow and develop beyond our intellect, into the realm of emotional intelligence, we adopt the humanitarian outlook as our method of judging the worth of our behavior, thoughts and emotions. This implies that certain values and/or strengths will be “available” to different individuals at different times in their lives. And some values may never be available to individuals that don’t progress past the pragmatic philosophy, such as allowing one’s self to be loved and wisdom (or perspective-taking).

In other words, the pragmatist may never be able to truly act in accordance with a stated value such as world peace because it is not in his best interest to do so. He can state world peace as a value yet it would not make any sense to work towards it as it does not maximize output and minimize input. Just the opposite would be true; he would have to put in a great deal of time and energy to make a tiny difference.
Every one of us has a values system.  A values system is the set of values that we hold important and the way in which they are prioritized. 

Personal Values As Ends and As Means

Personal values come in two types — ends and means

End values are the desired outcomes that a person desperately wants to achieve such as “freedom”, or “a purposeful life.”  Each individual has a different set of end values in his or her values system. 

Means values are beliefs about a person’s desired traits or ways of being such as “loving”, “forgiving”, or “kind.”  We possess means values because we believe that each one of the means values helps us to achieve our ends values.  For instance, “loving” may be a means value that helps one move towards the ends value of “a purposeful life.”

Take a moment to clarify your own top values. Take a moment to figure out which of the three philosophies is your primary one. Figure out where you want to go from here and how you want to get there. Figure out your values and the personal philosophy that underlies them…on your way to success.

To life, love and laughter,

John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Founder of Guide To Self, Inc.

Visit the site above for a complimentary copy of my award-winning book on the latest ways to manage your own thoughts and emotions to ensure greater character, integrity and success! Be character driven, not emotion driven!

Happiness Is Acting According to Your Values – Live With Meaning & Purpose

A happy, successful and satisfying life involves behaving according to a your own set of ethics, standards, or values.  Values are the core beliefs upon which you operate your life. You may be aware of your core beliefs. You may not. In my experience, I’ve noticed that the vast majority of people do not have any idea what their top values are.

Remember – You Are a Worthy Individual

To get the most from your life, you must believe at your core that you are a worthy individual – worthy of love, worthy of respect, worthy of making mistakes to learn from, worthy of friendship, worthy of quality friends, worthy of appropriate boundaries, worthy of taking time to refill and renew yourself, worthy of a flourishing and fulfilling life.

Our values are the stars by which we navigate through life. Henry David Thoreau wrote, ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.’

It Is Easy to Lose Track of Values In A Busy World

Ours is much too busy and noisy a world. Our lives take on a frenetic pace and people lose track of the values that give life meaning and purpose.

Everyone says they are for values – individuals, schools and corporations. All are quick to claim lofty ideals. The problem is their actions are not in keeping with their words, particularly at times of high emotion. Thus, we have schools that talk about treating children with compassion while verbally flagellating them in the classrooms.  We have parents that profess to love their children yet rage at them behind closed doors. We have businesses that say they value their customers yet treat them as if they were unintelligent nuisances. 

Ignore Values at Your Peril

People unaware of their values are more likely to be uncaring, conforming, inconsistent, and self-conflicted.

The less we know of our values, the less success and happiness we enjoy.

Clarify Your Values, Enjoy Success

The more we understand our values, the better able we are to make right choices which lead to right action even in the heat of strong emotions. This leads to integrity, happiness and prosperity.

Clarity of values leads to decisive acts of courage which are becoming exceedingly rare in this world. Don’t be driven by the whims of your emotions. Be character driven.   Be value driven.

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

For a free copy of John’s award-winning book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, visit, enter your email and name and be rewarded with instant access to your own PDF version of the book!