Research has proven that negative interactions at work hurt employees’ well-being and productivity, but the time spent at work is only one part of an employee’s day. New research shows that what happens at home also impacts employees’ behaviors, write researchers Mahira L. Ganster, Allison S. Gabriel, Christopher C. Rosen, Lauren S. Simon, Marcus M. Butts and Wendy R. Boswell in Harvard Business Review.


The study revealed that employees who had experienced incivility from their partners and were in a bad mood as a result were also more likely to say that they helped their colleagues with both work-related tasks and personal problems during work that day.


What’s more, in a survey the focal employees filled out later that evening in which emotions at home were assessed, the results suggested that helping others with personal problems actually led to these employees returning home in a better mood as well.


So how can you leverage the findings of this study?


First, if you’re a professional who has experienced partner incivility at home before work, know that helping others – especially supporting them through their own personal concerns – can help you cope with your own, and leave you in a better mood by the time you return home. It can also help you build relationships that can support you in the longer term.


Second, try seeing the uncivil interaction from another point of view. In a second study, these same researchers found that employees who tended to reframe negative interactions from the other person’s perspective essentially obviated their negative effects at work. Because incivility can be ambiguous, it’s not always clear that the instigator meant the slight. This kind of perspective taking can help people see their partners’ incivility in a more positive light.


Organizations and managers also have a role to play in supporting employees through difficult experiences they are having at home. Managers can create a positive environment that encourages employees to detach from home stressors while at work, much as home can be a space for employees to recover from workplace incivility.


And while these recent studies focused on those experiencing only minor instances of rude behavior, the researchers believe employees would benefit from the same cultural supports that have been shown to help those experiencing much more severe mistreatment at home, such as creating supportive climates where employees help each other and model positive social relationships.