Anyone who has ever had a boss has undoubtedly butted heads with that person and knows that it can make for an awkward vibe in the office. While it would be easy to let your resentment fester and possibly affect your work performance, scientists have a better solution: Get a voodoo doll.
As ScienceAlert reports, a new study published in The Leadership Quarterly found that when employees feel mistreated in the workplace, stabbing pins into a voodoo doll of their boss can be an effective way of managing the situation (and certainly a much better solution than stewing in anger). The study, led by psychologist Dr. Lindie Hanyu Liang, an assistant professor at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, found that engaging in "symbolic retaliation" against one's boss after perceived mistreatment eased participants' bitterness.
"We found a simple and harmless symbolic act of retaliation can make people feel like they're getting even and restoring their sense of fairness," Liang told The Telegraph.
In one experiment, nearly 200 full-time employees were asked to recall an instance in which they felt mistreated by their boss. Some of the participants were then given one full minute to exact their revenge on a virtual voodoo doll via a range of torture options, including sticking the doll with pins, burning it with a candle, or pinching it with pliers. Then, all of the study's participants completed a fill-in-the-blank word exercise.
Not only did those participants who got the chance to (fake) torture their boss report feeling less angry about the situation, they also did better on the exercise. The authors of the study concluded that harmless retaliation not only benefits individuals, but may also benefit the company as a whole, because employees' sense of justice is important for their well-being and performance on the job.
Liang told The Telegraph that you don't even need a voodoo doll to achieve the desired result. "Theoretically anything that serves as a symbolic act of retaliation, like throwing darts at a picture of your boss, might work," she said.
Just don't let your boss catch you!