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'How dare you!'- Your manager or your mother?

Published:Sunday | March 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Glenford Smith, Career Writer

Can you imagine the following scenario? It's 4 p.m. on a Friday - only 30 minutes between you and an eagerly anticipated weekend. You're thinking: a bit of partying tonight; sleep late tomorrow morning; then on Sunday ...

Suddenly, you're jolted out of your reverie, and advised to see your manager immediately. "What is this now?" you wonder, but quickly march to the office.

You leave the door open and remain standing. After all, you have no intention of taking up residence at this hour on a Friday evening. No way.

"Miss Whyte, how many times must I tell you this is not the format I want the monthly report in? How come you have degree and can't take instructions?" she begins accusingly.

"Surely, this couldn't be happening," you think, as your anger starts to rise. "Mrs Brown, I ... ," you try to explain before she cuts you off with a loud, "Shut up! Shut up! I don't want to hear anything from you!"

What would you do if this happened to you? Or are you thinking, "My manager wouldn't dare!"

Perhaps so, but someone's manager did. This is a true story, except for me taking a bit of creative freedom leading up to the manager's outburst, which really happened. And not just in the rare case either, if the anecdotal evidence is any indication.

tough to handle

People have shared with me experiences of managers and supervisors shouting at them and even pointing fingers angrily in their faces. One person said to me, "My manager speaks to me as if I'm her little daughter, which I find really upsetting. What should I do?"

This can be tough to handle. Some employees simply shout back at managers or point back their fingers in their faces and worry about finding another job later.

Others may meekly accept the rants, disrespect, and insults, while seething angrily inside. They think: "I want to give this 'person' a piece of my mind, but I have mouths to feed; I can't afford to get fired right now."

But perhaps there's another option. What would happen if you allowed the manager to vent while you listen calmly and non-defensively? Then, when she's done, you can quietly give your side of the story to her, if she's willing to listen.

If not, you can usually appeal to higher authority at work, but in a calm, rational and respectful manner. This is a possible way to get what you want: a peaceful weekend, and to keep your job, right?

You need not attack your manager. She may be unable to effectively control her emotions, but you can still set the example. It's always a wise idea to focus on what you want in these situations, not just to vent your feelings.

Remember the biblical advice which says, "A soft answer turns away wrath; but harsh words stir up anger." Your mother taught you that, right? It might be wise to follow your mother's advice, not your manager's example.

Glenford Smith is a writer, motivational speaker and personal achievement strategist.