Is your boss hostile? Return the hostility! That’s not my advice, but rather the results of a study that found employees experienced less psychological distress, more job satisfaction, and more commitment to their company when they retaliated against their bad bosses.
“Before we did this study, I thought there would be no upside to employees who retaliated against their bosses, but that’s not what we found,” said Bennett Tepper, lead author of the study and professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, as quoted at Newswise.
“The best situation is certainly when there is no hostility. But if your boss is hostile, there appears to be benefits to reciprocating. Employees felt better about themselves because they didn’t just sit back and take the abuse.”
The researchers describe hostile bosses as ones who yell, ridicule, and intimidate their workers. The researchers suggest that you not respond in kind—“I expect that you don’t have too many employees yelling and screaming at their bosses,”—Tepper said—but rather passive-aggressively: ignore the boss, act like you don’t know what the boss is talking about, or give a half-hearted effort.
The research, which was recently published online in the journal Personnel Psychology, involved data from two related studies that the researchers conducted.
Is returning a boss’s hostility a risky strategy? Tepper said that the studies showed that employees who retaliated didn’t believe their actions hurt their career and might have gained the admiration of coworkers.
My advice? Don’t try this at work.
Ultimately, said Tepper, “The real answer is to get rid of hostile bosses.”