situation that didn’t work… ” (BB#2).
In summary, with almost all respondents describing the display rules, the clarity and breadth of recognition suggests that these units had strong behavioral norms. The display rule to not show anger in front of clients, patients or their families appeared to be especially influential, while the rule to go to your supervisor when angry appeared to be more effective with issues that touched on organizational values, such as patient care, rather than issues between coworkers.
Social Work Department. The U.S. social work department, located within a hospital, had contingent anger norms where sometimes anger expressions were acceptable. As in the nursing home, the anger norms were strong and clear when they involved interactions with patients/clients. The supervisor reported this display rule: “…It’s not okay to be …with a patient and with a family and to be angry with them”(S#1). Even though the social workers reported occasionally feeling anger or frustration with clients, they expressed the desire to withhold it from clients or minimize their concerns. For example:
“I’ve gotten frustrated with patients before and their families, but I try with everything in me to never express that, or, if I do, I will say something like, you know, I really believe that I’m working with you with this plan and I’m getting a little frustrated with you and I’m hoping that you can try and work with me.” S#3
Although these norms were supported by the organization, they originated during occupational training and socialization (Van Maanen and Schein 1979), as one respondent indicated: “I guess in social work school, you know, I learned how to handle anger, how to manage it when others get angry at me” S#3. Additional support comes from the respondents’ tendency to report this display rule in the first person, implying that refraining from expressing anger to patients is a value that has become internalized—probably prior to being hired. The supervisor, also a social worker, reported encouraging conformity to this norm by reminding her staff members of these norms when they were in difficult situations. This suggests that the organization supports and derives benefit from this display rule, which is why it is instilled during professional training.
But some social workers also described a different set of circumstances in which they felt justified expressing anger directly, and that was when they served as the clients’ advocates, assisting them