Argument With A Manager


If someone argues with a manager at work and says a bad word but not directly to him, can you be fired?


Tell Me


Dear Tell Me:

Yes, arguing with a manager can get you fired. But it shouldn’t even if you used profanity. However, if you have a habit of expressing yourself disagreeably and rudely, adding “a bad word” might be enough for a manager, to fire you. The tone and attitude how and over what you argue with a manager will determine how that manager determines if he would like to get you out of his face and out of your workplace.

The answer to your question depends on how much you contribute to your workplace; your dependability or lack of it, your competence and performance, whether you cooperate with or give co-workers a hard time. Also whether you are fired for arguing and use of “bad words” hinge on policies and practices in your work organization and state. If you are in a state that doesn’t have a history of union contracts and you are not a union member, you likely work under what is called a “free will” doctrine. That means you can quit when you will and you can be fired at the will of your employer for a good reason or no reason.

We usually get questions such as yours from an employee who is worried that she/he will be fired for something did or said. Therefore, I assume that you are writing about yourself. And if that is the case, my suggestion is that you examine your attitude. What prompted you to argue with your manager? And what exactly did you say and what was the tone of your voice? Was this kind of confrontation frequent or rare? Was the issue about something important to improving the quality of production or its delivery? It might be wise for you to speak with your manager, even apologize, if after examining what took place you can say that the issue was important, but that you expressed yourself with less than a positive attitude. Keeping communication with your manager open, respectful, and honest is what matters, not whether you uttered a bad word.

I am of the opinion that argument in the workplace is not inevitable but it will occur when people care about how a job is done and/or if they feel disrespected. Argument can be good for a workplace and wise managers allow for and also encourage those under them to discuss and argue about what might make their workplace better. The way some people argue can be seen as verbal aggression, and that ain’t good–bad mouthing, complaining and insulting coworkers and those that manager are bad.

The fact that you sent in your question about what deserves firing suggests that not all is running smoothly where you work and between your manager and you. Conflict and argument should tell you it is time to realize that some things are right, or at least not as good as they should be. The fault may be fully or partly your managers and you might need to frankly and respectfully tell him so. But even if 90% of the fault is his, ask yourself if the best you can do is to argue, worry, complain, or withdraw. Or if it would be better with your voice to be a cheerleader and a champion doing all you can to make your working relationships positive rather than negative.

If any of these thoughts make sense, let me know. And tell me then what this closing sentence means to your situation: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden