Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Monday, 2 March 2009

Anger at work 'good for career'

Angry man
Anger can help at work, but it must be controlled

Getting angry at work may not be a bad thing, and may in fact help you move up the career ladder, researchers believe.

The Harvard Medical School study found those who repressed frustration were three times more likely to say they had reached a glass ceiling.

But the team, which has followed 824 people over 44 years, said it was important to remain in control when standing your ground.

Outright fury was destructive, the researchers added.

Lead author Professor George Vaillant said: "People think of anger as a terribly dangerous emotion and are encouraged to practise 'positive thinking', but we find that approach is self-defeating and ultimately a damaging denial of dreadful reality.

People who are assertive are able to stand their ground, while remaining respectful
Professor George Vaillant, lead author

"Negative emotions such as fear and anger are inborn and are of tremendous importance.

"Negative emotions are often crucial for survival. Careful experiments such as ours have documented that negative emotions narrow and focus attention so we can concentrate on the trees instead of the forest."

Professor Vaillant, who is director of the Study of Adult Development, which published the research, said uncontrolled fury was destructive.

"We all feel anger, but individuals who learn how to express their anger while avoiding the explosive and self-destructive consequences of unbridled fury have achieved something incredibly powerful in terms of overall emotional growth and mental health.

"If we can define and harness those skills, we can use them to achieve great things."

Ben Williams, an occupational psychologist who runs his own company, said: "This is really to do with passivity, aggression and assertiveness.

"People who are assertive are able to stand their ground, while remaining respectful. They show concerns for their team, as well as others.

"That wins them the respect of peers and means they are in a good position when promotions come round."

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