Ever watched a co-worker or boss lose his or her temper and yell or scream at someone at work? Odds are you lost some respect for them while you overheard the emotional scene. According to Amy Levin-Epstein, losing your temper at work is “a sure way to undermine your authority as a manager or competence as an employee.” Is it possible to show authority without yelling? Absolutely! Find out how…
Here are five tips Levin-Epstein gathered from workplace experts for her article, “5 Ways To Show Authority – Without Yelling”:
- Make it impersonal: Focus on the situation, not the people or emotions involved
- Change your tone: Use a calm, but tougher tone of voice than normal
- Get to know your colleagues: “Look for areas of common ground”
- Know when and how to de-escalate things: Learn when to take a step back and defuse a situation
- Clarify the facts: Understand the situation before jumping to conclusions
There are additional actions you can take to get your point across and demonstrate authority without raising your voice. The actions I recommend include:
Conducting research prior to opening your mouth: Before any discussions where you exert your point of view or share constructive feedback, conduct adequate research to ensure you understand the situation from all angles and can back up your point of view/comments with solid facts, e.g. objective versus subjective.
Demonstrating your seriousness through non-verbal communication: To be taken seriously and demonstrate authority, act in a serious manner by leaning forward during the discussion and being fully engaged. It can also help (depending on the topic) to bring back-up documents with example proof points or recommendations or to draw on a white board to help get thoughts across in a visual manner.
Choosing the right location for discussions:Another very important aspect of getting your point across and demonstrating authority is where the discussion takes place. For example, most situations where a sensitive topic is discussed should take place in a location that offers privacy, such as an office or conference room. Why?
- Because when the criticism is from manager to subordinate, a one-on-one meeting lets the subordinate know the topic of discussion is important. Further, managers should never discuss an employee’s poor behavior or performance in front of other employees. To do so demonstrates a lack of professionalism and respect.
- Because when the criticism is from subordinate to manager, holding a private discussion ensures the subordinate won’t embarrass the manager in front of others. It will also allow both parties to feel comfortable having an open, honest discussion. A subordinate that “attacks” a manager in the presence of others may find their actions damaging to their career. A subordinate that meets one-on-one with a manager to discuss an issue, point of view, or provide constructive feedback and offer recommendations may find their help improves their relationship with their manager and thus improves their career opportunities.
- Could a criticism or point of view be discussed in a group situation? Sure, but it needs to fit in directly with the topic being discussed. Also, the way it is introduced needs to be in a non-confrontational manner that focuses on the issue at hand and options for improvement – and doesn’t attack a specific person.
Lisa’s bottom line: Key to earning respect at work and getting your point across is to exert authority without yelling or screaming. To do so, attack the problem, not the person. Human compassion and rational situation analysis will always serve you much better than yelling to get your point across.
(Photo credit: Microsoft Free Clip Art)