GNcareers, from Gulf News

Is being unhappy at work good for you?

Is being unhappy at work good for you?Image Credit: Supplied

If you feel bad at work, it is good for you, said one study, and I thought to myself that it is a load of rubbish.

For most of the time I am awake, I spend at my work station in my office and I want that experience to be good, fruitful, productive and one that helps me re-energise myself for the long, long drive back home later in the evening.

If I feel bad at work, then definitely the rest of the week feels like a Monday (or, Sunday, in this region, when the workweek starts). The study, which I thought had really quirky findings, appeared in the journal, Human Relations, and said that if you are happy and positive in your workplace, it can lead to complacency and superficiality.

Apparently, if you have a toxic boss, whose main intention is to make your life miserable, or if you have peers who are just waiting for you to slip up, so they can feel happy about themselves, or if the workplace is a dog-eat-dog world, not an environment that is encouraging, appreciative and collaborative, then it is good for you.

All this time, I was under the impression that being unhappy at work could lead to depression because of the constant stress. I once knew an editor who complained of terrible migraines every day that vanished magically when he went home. Incidentally, doctors say the way to deal with work stress is to go jogging, meditate or to exercise.

The study also said that being angry at work does not always lead to negative outcomes and can be used as a force for good through acting upon injustices. An employee, for example, could express anger constructively after a manager has treated a fellow worker unfairly, it said.

Bit far-fetched

''Duh'', I said and wondered who does these studies, in which a lot of money, time and people-hours are spent for finding the obvious. However, this finding that feeling bad is good for you seemed a bit far-fetched. So I took it to Dubai-based psychologists to unravel it for me.

''Some people are prone to motivation through negativism, but it is not for everyone,'' said Dr Raymond Hamden, clinical and forensic psychologist and director of the Human Relations Institute & Clinics.

He said most people are motivated with positive encouragement and reinforcement. The psychologist said the only time when people are motivated by anxiety is at the beginning (of their career) when they want to learn a new process so that they can find favour with their superiors.

People, he said, need to have satisfaction at learning the skills so that they can apply their knowledge with little or no supervision. ''When people are told that they are not good enough for too long, they become stressed, and eventually burn out,'' he said.

Mary John, a psychologist at the Dubai Community Health Centre, said she agreed with the study. ''If you are happy all the time, you can become bored with life. Complacency sets in. One needs to taste sadness as well,'' she said.

She believes there should be competition at work to make you think out of the box. ''One needs that bit of anger inside you, because without that you will not question certain things that may be wrong,'' she said.

''If a boss is happy with you, then you will not do anything worthwhile. Some pressure is good for the brain for it to get charged,'' she said.

Psychologists say that boredom at work is a bad sign and one that shows you are going nowhere in your career. And never take on too much work just to please the boss, the psychologists said and added that if you take up an assignment, do your utmost to finish it well.

Click on Right Life Philosophies and find out how it leads to success

Source: Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter,