When was the last time you were frustrated at work? I’ll be the first one to admit that work can be one of the most frustrating places in the world and that is especially true if you have a boss that is not exactly seeing eye to eye with you. It can be difficult when you start mixing personality types and the fact that the boss has the opportunity to tell you what to do, either to the good or to the bad, things can sometimes go very poorly.
The problem is, when we are dealing with any type of frustrating and stressful boss, we are actually stuck in that situation for an extended amount of time. We might find that our anxiety is getting the best of us because we have to be there for eight hours a day and we never fully come down from the anxiety that we are feeling. Before long, the anxiety turns into resentment and every time we have to be in the proximity of our boss, we go into a full-blown panic.
If you find that you are losing your cool because of a bad boss, you might be interested in what researchers have to say about it. They say that it might be possible to release your anger by using a doll.
This study was published in an industry journal and it found that a morale boost was possible when employees who felt mistreated participated in some type of ‘symbolic retaliation’ against their superior.
Dr. Lindie Hanyu Liang was the lead researcher is an assistant professor at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada. For this study, workers in both United States and Canada were utilized. It was found that some were helped by torturing a little doll that represented their supervisor would it help to lower their feelings of injustice. How much lower? Up to 30%!
“We found a simple and harmless symbolic act of retaliation can make people feel like they’re getting even and restoring their sense of fairness,” Liang The Telegraph.
400 people were recruited to participate in the two different experiments. They wanted to find out if acts of retaliation, even though symbolic, that took place against their bosses would help them to have less stress in the workplace.
195 full-time employees were recruited for the first study. They were asked to recall a past incident at work when they felt that they were mistreated by their superiors. It was to include times that the superiors were “being rude, making negative comments, or failing to acknowledge their hard work.”
Immediately after they thought of that incident, they were directed to use a program online in which they would torture small dolls that represented their boss.
They were able to name the doll after their boss and then they could stick it with pins, burn it with candles or pitch it with pliers for a full minute.
After doing so, they were given an exercise in which they filled in the blanks and revealed how they felt. It came about that they actually felt better than the group that was not able to participate in the symbolic retaliation.
“We wanted to see, rather than actually retaliating against the abusive boss, whether mistreated employees could benefit from harmless acts of symbolic retaliation,” Liang said.
206 business school students were used in a follow-up experiment. A similar outcome was found when they were able to retaliate in such a way.
As a result of those experiments, it was found that symbolic acts of retaliation could benefit the individual. In addition, it could also boost the entire staff’s morale and improve the performance of everyone on the job.
“It may not have to be a voodoo doll per se: theoretically anything that serves as a symbolic act of retaliation, like throwing darts at a picture of your boss, might work,” Liang explained.
“Symbolically retaliating against an abusive boss can benefit employees psychologically by allowing them to restore their sense of justice in the workplace.”