Forgiveness in the Workplace

Almost two million people per year in the United States report that they are victims of violence in the workplace. Most of these incidents are unreported, which means that the victims are coming to work each day with an inner world that may be disrupted and resentful while the worker goes about his or her routine tasks.

The United States Department of Labor suggests that to reduce violence, no-tolerance policies along with encouragement to report incidents and prevention programs may be best. Yet, of what should the prevention programs consist? recommends a series of steps such as a no-harassment policy, followed by reporting to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, followed by a lawsuit if such violence persists. Others have similar views: be vigilant in spotting potential behavioral trouble, report incidents, and offer help to those prone to violence.

Stopping behavior, however, is only one approach and not our favored one because the focus is on stopping symptoms rather than getting at the root cause of workplace aggression. So, what might be a root cause of workplace aggression? Of course, human psychology is too complex to definitively pinpoint one, exact cause for all. Yet, there are some themes worthy of reflection. The website Compassion Power suggests that low self-esteem, anxiety, and excessive anger are part of the explanation.

If you notice, all of these features (self-esteem, anxiety, and excessive anger) are part of a person’s inner world. In all likelihood, those who are internally disrupted are the ones who let all of this unrest out onto others, abusing them. Those who lack emotional integrity are usually the ones who hurt others.

Forgiveness is one proven scientific approach to healing internal disruption. Forgiveness can bolster self-esteem and be a protection against high anxiety. Forgiveness can reduce toxic anger.

For those looking for resources, we recommend Chapter 15 of the book, The Forgiving Life. For those of you looking for a more academic approach,  we recommend our on-line course based on the book, Helping Clients Forgive.

Forgiveness is one important way of quelling disruptive behavior in the workplace, by quieting the rage within. Co-workers’ productivity and cooperation are likely to improve when abuse is reduced.

Dr. Bob

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Categories: Our Forgiveness Blog, Work Environment


  1. Brenda says:

    This is a cutting edge idea of reducing anger as a way of increasing cooperation and productivity. Does the IFI offer seminars on this for companies? With your expertise, you could be the industry leader in this new way of thinking.

  2. Ted says:

    I used to think that a good company is tough and shows no mercy. I was wrong. Being tough and tenderhearted toward employees works wonders. I encourage you to develop this further.


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