How do you deal with situations in the workplace that boil your blood? Here’s some advice to keep the conflict under control.
But anger is a destructive emotion you must learn to control if you want to build a business. As the old saying goes, if you want to make an omelet you have to break a few eggs. Well, while building your business if you let your anger get the best of you every time someone breaks an egg you’ll risk disenfranchising your employees and, correspondingly, you’ll tear down that which you are trying so hard to build.
So how do you deal with situations that would typically boil your blood? Here’s some advice to make sure you keep it under control.
1. Be polite. Be respectful.
No one likes to be brow beaten. It is dehumanizing. When angry it is easy to snap and take a tone that is simply unprofessional. But in business it is not necessarily how you say something but what you actually say which is most significant. For instance, if someone misses a deadline and you need to address the situation, a stern but polite admonition is equally as effective as a profanity-laced tirade. Always be respectful. Always be polite. You can still be stern. Just don’t be rude about it.
2. Never make a decision when you are angry.
When you are angry your judgment is clouded, you don’t think clearly. I once watched a mob of managing attorneys fail to control their anger resulting in the firing of another very good attorney. They allowed their emotions to feed off of one another until their machismo bravado took control and they stormed into his office and fired him on the spot. For what? Something that – if cooler heads had prevailed – would have been seen as a relatively minor infraction.
Think before you act and you can’t think clearly when your angry. Take the time to calm down. Evaluate the situation. Then make decisions that are well-reasoned and unaffected by the emotions of the moment.
3. Know all the facts before you act.
So often we hear one side of the story and begin forming our opinions on a matter. This is a very dangerous habit as there are always two sides to every story.
Once I was watching Ricki Lake. Once. For those of you who do not recall Ricki Lake she hosted a talk show that’s a cross between Jerry Springer and Oprah. Ricki was laying into a guest for an incident that occurred in the guest’s home. Specifically, he had shoved his pregnant wife to the ground. Pretty bad, huh? Ready to beat him yourself.
The husband was then permitted to explain how the incident unfolded. Evidently he and the aforementioned woman with child were arguing in the kitchen over bills, and she began beating him over the head with a cast iron skillet. After the third or fourth blow and now bleeding profusely from his head he decided for self-preservation. He simply pushed her away with one arm to stop the next crushing blow against his skull. Because she was tired from beating him she stumbled and fell to the floor. Change your view ever so slightly?
Now I’m not advocating pushing pregnant women around. But I am saying there is often another side to the story. Make sure you know all sides before you make any decision. A decision based on 50% of the facts has only a 50% chance of being the right decision.
4. Never use profanity.
When I was a child I recall watching a movie with my granddad in which an actor in the movie used a couple of profane words. These words did not even appear on George Carlin’s iconic list of the seven words you will never be able to say on TV. Nevertheless these lesser profanities drew the ire of my grandfather. “Why did they have to say that?” he asked. “Profanity adds nothing to that. It is just vulgar.”
Fast forward 30 years and I could not agree more. Profanity lowers any discussion. It also distracts from the underlying message.
To this day I can still recall one of my bosses laying into me saying, “If you ever do that again I will take you by your f@#king tie and hang you from that f@#king rafter until you are f@#king dead!” Wow. Instead of simply giving me a stern tongue lashing the profanity, and admittedly the threat of violence, took it to whole new level-or lowered it as the case may be. But it’s a level that never should have been reached.
Profanity changes the tenor of every conversation and not in a good way. Unless you’re a stand-up comedian it should be avoided in the work place at all costs.