Emotional Tyranny at Work: Suppressing the Moral Emotions
Raul,1 a middle manager at a large American banking firm, was criticized by his boss pointedly, unexpectedly, and most bothersome to him, very publicly. Indeed, this incident occurred during Raul’s presentation before a monthly gathering of senior managers and Raul’s own staff. His recollection bristles with an emotional intensity seldom associated with the workplace. Nonetheless, Raul’s report is surprisingly typical of those I have collected fromemployees working in a wide variety of organizational settings. As Raul sees it, the disrespectful treatment he received from his boss was designed to embarrass him, to “put me in my place,” to send a forceful message to an up-and-coming subordinate about who was really in charge. Undeniably, many veteran employees readily recall similar instances of what I have come to call emotional tyranny-the use of emotion by powerful organization members in a manner that is perceived to be destructive, controlling, unjust, and even cruel.