We decided to ask people to complain about their workplace. Over three days, we set up the Workplace Complaints Bureau at the Hotbox Hub and invited people to lodge their complaints. A huge study that looked at 15,000 customer service workers in Korea found that people who reported ‘suppressing emotion’ were more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. A Dutch study looking at the police force also found that suppressing anger at work is positively correlated to feelings of exhaustion at the end of the day – and this is really interesting because anger is the most commonly suppressed emotion in the workplace according to psychologist Dr Sandi Mann. Psychologist Susan David argues that the idea that employees should only display positive emotions at work often results in organisational failures. Managing workplace complaints should also be an area of concern because managers are not good at dealing with negative emotions, and this can reproduce cultures of repressed emotion. Until we can incorporate the helpful elements of this process into our teams and workplaces in a constructive way, there’s always poetry.
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