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Chapter 14. Underpinnings of Aggression > Culture and Aggression

Culture and Aggression

Both the societal and corporate cultures have considerable impact on aggressive behavior. In some cultures it is acceptable to show anger, in others it is not. In some cultures it is acceptable to undercut those who are in your way. Other cultures do not tolerate this behavior. Most people are significantly restrained by their culture’s expectations and the fear of sanctions if they violate the culture. Those who are not at all restrained will generally be extruded unless they have remarkable skills or connections.

Prisoner of Another Culture

Gabrielle was unable to make the transition from one office culture to another. Her living by the old culture’s rules led her to alienate many people.

Gabrielle spent five years working for a mid-sized company. She had performed well, moved upward, and was ready for a new challenge. The culture of her prior firm supported directness. Directness included open confrontation and at times displays of anger. No one took such incidents very seriously. Most workers were comfortable with the rough and tumble style of the firm. On the other hand, backbiting was not tolerated.

Two or three weeks into her new position, Gabrielle heard that someone had said something negative about her behind her back. Feeling she had been severely fouled, she called the person into her office and blasted him. Taken aback, the person said little in response to Gabrielle’s attack, but he began talking to others about Gabrielle’s not fitting in. When Gabrielle became aware that people were speaking about her behind her back, rather than confronting her directly, she became increasingly irritable. She did not understand this new place or why people were not talking with her directly. The situation progressively deteriorated and she chose to leave before she was fired.



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