Advice |  Work tips: My boss yelled when I interrupted their election rant

Advice | Work tips: My boss yelled when I interrupted their election rant


Reader: My employer had a huge tantrum when I told them “Breathe” while they were in the middle of an election tirade. They told me that I had no right to control the way they spoke and that I wouldn’t get far in life if I couldn’t stand them yelling. They didn’t ask me if they could let off steam, and I didn’t ask them to share what they thought.

I don’t think I’m wrong for wanting to have a scream-free workspace, and I feel like I’m owed an apology. What do you think?

Karla: No, it’s not ridiculous to want a work environment without shouting. But, like Norman Rockwell’s famous portrait of a family Thanksgiving dinner, it’s an ideal that doesn’t always reflect reality.

There is a pervasive belief in some industries that moving forward means absorbing years of abuse without question or protest – that tears are the reason for success and tantrums are just unpolished gems. of frustrated genius. This mindset leads billionaire CEOs to halve their workforces, fire anyone who objects for good measure, and offer remaining staff a choice between long, high-intensity hours to fix a sinking ship or three months’ severance pay. Those who remain, by this calculation, are the truly dedicated and “hardcore” employees, driven by the will to succeed. (Instead of being constrained by, say, poverty or the threat of eviction.)

Hesse: I don’t think “hardcore” means what Elon Musk thinks it means

In contrast, thousands of workers during the “Great Resignation” discovered a new road map to success: being able to recognize and walk away from abusive situations. Unemployment is still at an all-time high, with many employers finding honey superior to vinegar in attracting talent. Empathy, respect and emotional intelligence are the characteristics of leaders that people like to work for.

All this to say that your boss’ line “you’ll never get far if you can’t stand my rants” is snort-worthy.

While it’s true that you won’t get far trying to teach your boss these skills – “take a breath” ranks up there with “just calm down” and “throwing water on a fire grease” in terms of unsuccessful defusing tactics – it doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean you have to stand there and endure high-decibel obstruction.

‘Micromanaged and disrespectful’: The top reasons workers quit in the big quit

“It’s too stressful for me to listen. I need to get away,” spoken in a neutral tone while backing away, is an effective way to disengage. Continuing to pursue them at this point is aggression; is that when you let them chase you down to human resources office, the security post or a group of witnesses.

When things have calmed down and all parties seem stable, it’s time to follow up for a debrief: “I respect your right to have opinions and feelings about current events – I know I I have – but I’d rather we did.” Don’t discuss it at work. Everyone has different points of view, and I don’t want to be put in a position of disagreement or argument with my boss, especially if it affects our working relationship. If you’re ready to add some heat to the honey: “I don’t appreciate being yelled at, especially when it’s not even about work.”

A genuinely professional and respectful boss who occasionally loses perspective will respect your point of view and may even apologize for unloading on you. If they’re the thin-shelled type who sees any pushback as an attempt to take control—because “control or be controlled” is the only form of interaction they understand—you could find yourself out of a job. If you think the latter scenario is likely, you might want to have a private chat with HR to let them know your views just before you have the conversation with your boss.

By the way, tracking is optional. It’s okay to decide that the confrontation isn’t worth the risk for you, or that this incident was a rare seasonal event, and future exposure can be managed or avoided – for example, by planning to be somewhere else during the next post-election season.

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