Next time your boss criticizes you, stand up for yourself.
New research out of Ohio State University, published in Personnel Psychology, shows that retaliation against a hostile boss helps you hold onto your sanity.
“Employees felt better about themselves because they didn’t just sit back and take the abuse,” says the study’s lead author, Bennett Tepper. The researchers expected the opposite–that returning hostility would beget more angst–but found the opposite.
The participants surveyed their bosses’ behaviors over seven months, and recorded how often they were ridiculed or belittled at work, and how they responded to the treatment. They followed up with reports on job satisfaction, commitment, and distress.
Employees who stayed quiet and shouldered the abuse were beaten down by it, they reported seven months later. Those who retaliated–with passive-aggressions, “ignoring their boss, acting like they didn’t know what their bosses were talking about, and giving just half-hearted effort,” according to the press release–reported the opposite.
By standing up for themselves, they earned the respect of their coworkers and gained back power in the relationship with their bosses. They were more committed to their jobs, and didn’t believe their careers were impacted negatively by facing a bullying boss head-on.
Whether or not you’ll keep your job after reaming out your superiors in front of everyone is to be determined.