Key Podcast Highlights

Does Anger Produce Improved Results?

  • A recent study found that anger is more effective than positivity when it came to a coach’s halftime speech.
  • Researchers at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, analyzed hundreds of halftime speeches and final scores from high school and college basketball games. They found that players seemed to perform better after a harsh, more negative halftime speech from the coach.

Should You Use Anger in Your Small Business With Your Employees?

  • Anger should be used very rarely in a small business.
  • If you’re not an angry person or someone who yells a lot, you don’t want to be someone you’re not. Be yourself.
  • However, as long as people know you’re being fair and transparent, anger and frustration can have it’s role.
  • If you’re gong to get angry, don’t do it in front of other employees. You don’t want to embarrass people or make a scene.
  • It’s also important to be careful. Anger can sometimes be interpreted as harassment and your employee may take action with HR.


The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are for informational purposes only, and solely those of the podcast participants, contributors, and guests, and do not constitute an endorsement by or necessarily represent the views of The Hartford or its affiliates.

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Gene (00:00):

Hey everybody, it’s Gene Marks and welcome to this week’s episode of The Small Biz Ahead podcast. I’ve been wanting to talk about this study for a long time. It is one that was actually came out back in 2019, and I wanna report to you something that was written on, S-T-U-D-Y That study is about coaches, and it turns out that anger is more effective than positivity when it comes to a coach’s halftime speech. Now, let me read this out to you. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, analyzed hundreds of halftime speeches and final scores from high school and college basketball games. And here’s what they found. They found that players seemed to perform better after a harsh, more negative halftime speech from the coach. In fact, researchers discovered a significant relationship between the level of negativity a coach projects during a halftime speech and second half scoring outcomes.

Gene (01:05):

The more the negativity, the more the team outscored their opponents, that is at least up to a certain threshold points. This was even true if the team is already ahead at halftime, according to one of the lead researchers. In this report on study finds, rather than saying, you’re doing great, keep it up. It’s better to say, I don’t care if you’re up by 10 points, you can play better than this. By the way, there were like 304 speeches that were studied and they used all sorts of different rationale and formulas to determine what was negative and what was not negative. What was anger, what was frustration, what was extreme? But the takeaway from this study, from the University of California Berkeley, is that, it’s like anger seems to get more results out of people than just being nice.

Gene (01:54):

Now, do you agree with that? That is a real interesting thing for us, for people that are running businesses. I mean, should we be shouting more at our employees or be we being too nice to our people? Should we be jerks more often? I don’t think so. First of all, and let me just give you my thoughts, and they’re only my thoughts in my opinion. You don’t wanna be what you’re not to be. In other words, if you’re not an angry person or if you’re not a high volume kind of individual, somebody who yells and screams a lot, well, you don’t wanna be something that you’re not, right? You wanna be yourself when you’re managing, you don’t have to follow any studies or research or guidelines for being a manager. You wanna manage off of your gut, and you want to be yourself, transparent fully open to your employees.

Gene (02:44):

And if that means that you’re just a nice person, you’re a nice person, but I will tell you this much, anger sometimes does work. It’s worked for me, not only with employees, but also with clients as well. Believe it or not, you try and do it very, very rarely, but there have been times where I have lost it on an employee, or I’ve been really firm with somebody, they can tell that I’m pretty angry. I’ve done the same thing with clients, believe it or not, because sometimes clients don’t listen to what we have to say. Like, we implement technology, and sometimes clients think they know more than us, and they’re paying us to be the experts. And you can be nice for a certain period of time. And then at some point, I get to the point where I’m like, I gotta raise my voice and yell a little bit.

Gene (03:30):

So, in the 25 years I’ve been running my company, I’ve found myself getting angry more than a few times. Again, you try to limit it, but it does anger and a high voice and showing that frustration. It does have its role. Being a nice person all the time, may not be the best way to do things. There’s also no reason, as long as people know that you’re being fair and you’re being transparent and you’re looking out for their best interest in the companies, to express your anger if something isn’t going right. I mean, if somebody really did mess up and they shouldn’t have, or they knew better, or they were just being lazy and maybe it’s happened more than once, or maybe it was like something that really impacted other people. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with raising your voice.

Gene (04:16):

A few things. If you’re gonna get angry, you probably don’t wanna do it in front of, other employees as well. There’s no reason to embarrass people or make a big scene. You wanna be careful if you’re getting angry with an employee, because in today’s workplace environment, people can consider it to be even as level as harassment or treatment that they might take action back against you with HR. So you have to be careful how you express that anger. But I think the takeaway from this Berkeley study is that sometimes it’s okay to get angry. I mean, you don’t have to be that football coach in halftime every single time in the locker room yelling and screaming at your players, but showing anger once in a while, particularly if it’s used rarely and it’s used at the right time, I think it really can make a difference with your employees.

Gene (05:05):

I think, if you choose what you wanna be angry about and you show that anger, I think it can really have an impact on… it will get the attention of your employees and maybe your customers or clients too. So in a nutshell, and as a takeaway, anger’s not so bad all the time. You wanna try and keep it limited, but getting angry once in a while. I think as a leader, as a manager, as a business owner, I think there is a place for that. And I think you can show your anger once in a while, and I think it can be effective, certainly according to this study, it certainly is, at least among coaches during halftime. That’s my thoughts this week about anger. Should you yell at your employees? Well, maybe you can once in a while and it’s not so bad. My name is Gene Marks. You have listening to this week’s Small Biz Ahead podcast from The Hartford. If you’d like any advice or…

Gene (05:56):

Tips or help in running your visitors, please visit us at or Again, my name is Gene Marks. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll be back with you next week with another piece of advice to help you run your business. Take care.

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