Lawanna Brock Discusses Workplace Aggression

Jul 22 08:00 2011 Lawanna Brock Print This Article

What does workplace aggression mean to you? Have you been a victim? Maybe you were a perpetrator. Read on to learn more.

     Prejudice and bias exists in the workplace as well as aggression. Workplace aggression is defined by “any form of behavior through which individuals seek to harm others in their workplace.” The first type of aggression seen in the workplace is microagression. According to the research by Lawanna Brock,Guest Posting the term racial microagression was first offered by psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce, MD, in the 1970s, but psychologists have significantly amplified the concept in recent years. The study of microaggressions looks at the power and influence of these subtle racial expressions from the viewpoint of the people being oppressed. Three types of prejudice are said to exist under the format of microaggression: (1) microassaults - conscious and intentional actions or slurs, such as using racial epithets or displaying swastikas; (2) microinsults: verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person's racial heritage or identity. (3) microinvalidations: communications that subtly exclude, negate, or nullify the thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person.

     Another type of workplace aggression is instrumental aggression. Research tells us that instrumental aggression occurs when the primary goal is not to harm the victim but rather attainment of some other goal e.g. valued resources. This is seen in the workplace when people vie for position, power, and money. This type of aggression is said to be “cold-blooded, deliberate, and goal driven” as stated by psychology researchers. A third type of workplace aggression is noted as passive-aggression. Lawanna Brock TN found that passive-aggressive behavior refers to actions that are intended to do some kind of harm but are not direct. Research found that the effect-danger ratio is considered with some types of aggression and this is one of them. This way harm is inflicted while retaliation is minimized.

     One theory that was reported to best explain these types of aggression in the workplace is the realistic conflict theory. Lawanna Brock found through research that the dislike for others stems from direct competition between various persons over valued resources. The members of separate groups are said to view each other in negative terms and label each other as enemies. From an evolutionary perspective, it has been suggested that aggression coupled with positive skills and tendencies may increase one's chances of obtaining social and material rewards. Retaliation theory and revenge theories are also reasons for workplace aggression. This is when one considers harmful acts justified because the other person deserved it. This deals with response to a perceived injustice. The excitation transfer theory also would apply and is a type of explanation for aggression. In this theory, arousal `is produced in one situation and this leads to emotional reaction that occurs in a later situation. Another theory of interest would be the negative effect theory which states that negative feelings and experiences are the main cause of anger and angry aggression. With the social learning theory, human aggression is learned by watching others behave aggressively and this could also apply to aggressions in the workplace. It would apply to workplace aggression. Finally, the instinct theory states that through evolution, humans have developed aggression in the form of a fighting instinct in order to survive. The workforce is competitive and therefore, conflict arises.

    Strategies for managing, controlling and preventing aggression in the workplace would include be to make the workplace safe. Here are some suggestions of the International Labor Organization: (1)Preventive: Employers must look for and deal with the causes. (2)Targeted: All types of violence cannot be handled in the same way. Employers should select the type of violence with which they need to deal and should handle it directly. (3)Multiple: Combinations of responses are needed to deal with complex problems. (4)Immediate: Response to a potentially dangerous situation must be without delay. (5)Participatory: Any program or intervention should be based upon involvement and participation by relevant employees. (6)Long term: Problems today that are not dealt with are problems for tomorrow.

      To conclude, by reducing workplace aggression, there would be less aggression in the home and in schools simply because of the social learning theory in play. Children and families would have a more peaceful atmosphere in the home setting if when they came home from work and school, they were not upset over the day’s events and occurrences. Prevention and control strategies begin with the individual family unit. The workplace, home and school environment should be one of respect, empathy, unity, and comradery, not one of aggression and violence. Lawanna Brock was disappointed that the literature primarily focused on white on minority aggression and not much was said about white on white aggression. She has worked in the healthcare arena for over 20 years and found that this type of aggression is common. Nursing researchers call it “lateral violence.” The realistic conflict theory and instinct theories more explain white on white aggression.

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About Article Author

Lawanna Brock
Lawanna Brock

Lawanna Brock has a Master's of Science from the University of Tennessee. She is currently working on her Ph.D in Public Health/Epidemiology from an accredited university.  Lawanna has worked for where she is a contributing editor,, where she is a natural skincare consultant, and several Ph.D level researchers.  Lawanna's work can be viewed on her website.

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