Angry Manager

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss who explodes angrily: There’s also been times when she would be so angry about a particular business that she would say to me, “Well, (insert business here) can go f*ck themselves.” I notice she doesn’t talk or behave like this around other co-workers that are at her own level.

My boss can be very nice at times as well as funny and enjoyable. The problem is you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes when she’s explaining an answer to a question or situation – she ‘reacts’ to the situation at hand rather than just providing a sufficient answer.

By ‘reacts’ I mean… raises her voice very loudly and almost gets emotionally angry because of the circumstance that it pertains to. I’ve learned not to take her reactions personally because I’ve witnessed this same type of reaction with others time and time again. Sometimes when I’m on the phone I notice she’s trying to listen to my end of the conversation which many times provokes her to add a comment or two; however, she is only hearing one end of the conversation. There was one instance where I had to place the caller on ‘hold’ and consult with her due to the nature of the call. Instead of just giving a simple answer that would have been sufficient, she literally yanked the phone from my hand and proceeded to take the call. When she was speaking to the caller, you never would have known by her tone that she was so angry just one minute before.

There’s also been times when she would be so angry about a particular business that she would say to me, “Well, (insert business here) can go f*ck themselves.” I notice she doesn’t talk or behave like this around other co-workers that are at her own level.

Frankly, I view her reactions as childish but coming from an educated adult, they are quite shocking. I love my job and have a great work ethic. I try my absolute best to do all that I do and I take pride in that. I have to believe that others feel that way too because I get positive comments from others about my dedication and work performance. It’s been very difficult ‘dancing’ around a personality that truly seems unstable. That all said – there’s times when she’s funny and personable and even arranges for a few of us to go out to lunch or dinner. I just thought it would be beneficial to get an outside, honest opinion as to what would be recommended. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this and I appreciate any suggestions. If possible, I prefer my question to not be posted on the website.

Signed, #NAME?

DearĀ #NAME?:

This question was not posted until years later. All our Q&As are anonymous. Your question, if it were posted immediately, it probably could not be identified because there are others that describe similar disturbing action by bosses.You don’t say how you reacted to the incident in which your boss angrily grabbed the phone from you and then talked sweetly to the caller. Nor do you say if you ever have spoken with your boss about her unpredictable outbursts. Therefore, apparently you biting your tongue unintentionally reinforced her unpredictable pattern of occasional angry behavior.

This is to suggest you can continue to dance on eggs tolerating outbursts or you can speak up to her about her disturbing behavior. Here are overlapping suggestions for what you and your coworkers might do:

–The next time your boss raises her voice angrily, you can put your hand up in a STOP signal and in a hushed tone, say something like, “Let’s not raise our voices. We can solve this problem.”Afterward in a private way, you can talk with her about why you signaled stop, “Jan, or whatever is her name, do you understand why I interrupted you? I feel upset when you get upset and I want your cool side of dealing with trouble rather than you sometimes explosive side.”

Such talk should lead to spelling out what previously has been unsaid. Talk about talk can evolve in surfacing inappropriate behavior and coming to an understanding of what is friendly effective.When things are going well, place on the agenda the topic of Fish. Possibly you have never heard of Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market. There are two books and a film (titled Fish and Fish Tales about how this place makes disagreeable work playful, so much so that it has inspired other companies to put play into its own workplace.

You and/or your boss might read a chapter of one of these books and then propose that your work group read a chapter each week and discuss how the ideas in it might apply to your own work group. I predict that this would indirectly rid the bad behavior you describe by focusing on the positive. Fortunately, your boss does have a fun side and this should appeal to her. Do these thoughts address your concerns? I want you to dance at work rather than to walk on eggs. Work is hard enough without working scared of a boss who might explode.

Will you let me know if any of these suggestions make sense to you and if so what you choose to do? We choose our attitudes or we allow others to impose theirs on us. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and for and your coworkers to dance it will take some effort.

William Gorden