While no one at work wants to be kept waiting, reactions to waiting can be managed to reduce aggression that may result from the wait. We spend a part of our daily life waiting, and unfortunately, wait time can fuel aggressive tendencies. A new paper by DMEP member Dorit Efrat-Treister and her colleagues Michael A. Daniels and Sandra L. Robinson in Journal of Organizational Behavior finds that reducing people's construal level—making them think in more concrete terms—can buffer such aggression.
Construal level refers to how abstractly or concretely people perceive, comprehend and interpret the world around them. Generally, abstract thinking leads to better outcomes, such as more creativity, wider vision and feeling more powerful. However, the authors demonstrate that in stressful situations, such as waiting, concrete thinking can have advantages, both in reducing the perceived duration of the wait, and the aggressive reactions to it. In the study, people came to a meeting in the lab and were told their partner was late. Those that were prompted to think concretely perceived the waiting time as shorter, and reacted less aggressively than those that were led to think abstractly. As the study shows, managers can reduce the perception of wait time without adding resources by priming people to think more concretely, and distracting them from the time that has passed. Any concrete focus that prevents abstract thinking about waiting can be helpful to reduce aggressive reactions to the wait.
To the full article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/job.2433