Have you ever walked into a room and are able to gauge that something doesn’t feel right? I went to work today and as soon as my boss walked in the door I could tell something was off, even though he was pretending to be happy but deep down he was troubled. You see, we have a situation occurring that he feels a lot of pressure to put to bed. A situation where I have done everything right on my end but he feels powerless because the outcome is not as clear and easy as he would like. Fast forward 3 hours later, and he is having a stress induced yelling session at me for something that is not within my control and it became obvious that I was right when I assessed earlier that something was off with him.
A lot of people don’t realize that whenever you yell at someone, it’s a sign that you have not only lost control of your emotions but of the situation as well. It makes you look bad even if you are in the right for being upset. Your message carries more weight when delivered in a controlled manner. Losing your mind, especially on people who don’t deserve it only diminishes your value in their eyes. So I sat there as he raised his voice and lost it and my respect for him sank into the floor with every passing second that he freaked out. *Insert blank, blinking stare here*
A few months back I read the book The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. I highly recommend this book for anyone working in the corporate world because it is like a bible on day-to-day relations. As I watched my boss’s face contort, and his eyes widen, I observed the higher the volume on his voice raised the more chapter 39 resonated in my head. Law 39 in the book called Stir up waters to Catch fish talks about this very situation. Basically emotion and anger are counterproductive and even if justified a moment of insanity will always make you look bad and will diminish your respect in everyone’s eyes. Staying calm always wins.
In my previous employment D, a very handsome Director was the embodiment of the entire book. He never lost his cool, he rarely raised his voice to anything that resembled a shout. At times he spoke sternly but he never lost his cool in public no matter what angered him and I have seen him angered but his anger was always controlled with a dangerous air of calm! He had complete control over himself and as a result he controlled every situation without ever having to say a word. He had so much power that when he walked into the room the energy changed and was even more charged than when the GM, who runs the entire Canadian division walk’s in.
After I read that book I understood why.
Never lose control of yourself in any situation. Always remain calm even when you are infuriated. There is no law (unless you are being interrogated by the police) that says you have to answer every question right away if it means that your answer is not thought out or worse emotional. I have been in situations where I was very angry and felt that my answer would be emotional and not well thought out. So, I explained that I would like a moment to think about it before I answered. It garnered me respect and I was able to take control of the situation and answer on my own terms.
I plan to re-read the book again so I can figure out how to best approach my boss and this tense situation happening at work. My boss is under a lot of stress, partly self-induced because he doesn’t know how to handle the pressure from his superiors and the push back he is getting from forces outside of the organization. He is walking a fine line of success and when a person like that has all the balls in the air and a force comes by that causes a little disturbance or changes the parameters, like a bit of wind for example, they react by becoming combative, defensive and anxious.
How do you handle stressful situations? Have you read the book the 48 Laws? Have you ever been in a situation where you were being yelled at by your boss even though you’ve done everything right but your boss chooses you to unload their stress on? Tell me your thoughts.