Screaming Match!

A question submitted to Ask the Workplace Doctors about Screaming

My coworker and I got into a screaming match at work. She called me a piece of shit and I should kiss her ass. I told her I do not kiss woman ass because I am not lesbian. My co-worker told my supervisor I called her lesbian and I was send home. My supervisor did not ask me what happened. He just sent me to HR, and I was sent to a different location to work without telling me why. What can I do?

Signed – Sent Elsewhere

Dear Sent Elsewhere:
What can you do? You can reflect on what led up to the screaming maaaatch (the misspelling is to help you recall what happened) and to list your options. Our site is committed to communication that enables workplace civility and collaboration. We assume that also is your motive for sending this brief drama that probably was heard by coworkers in your work area. 

Reflect. What precipitated the screaming? Understanding this might come from simple questions as to how well were you getting along with that coworker and how efficient and effective is your workgroup? Does your supervisor have regular skull sessions praising what is productive and what might we do to make our working together more cooperative? Your thoughtful answer to these two overlapping questions might give you an answer to your question: What can I do? Options. You might consider apologizing to your screaming coworker rather than thinking she should apologize to you. Another option is to consider apologizing to your supervisor for your part in creating a screaming match rather than blaming him for sending you elsewhere.  In short, you have within your power to shape the way others will see you. Sure you want the screaming coworker to treat you respectfully and for your supervisor to hear your side of what caused the screaming. But the supervisor probably made the send-her-elsewhere decision as the quickest way to get your work group and you back to work. That is his responsibility. Investigating the cause of conflict and developing a collaborative harmonious workgroup would be helpful and might since he sent you to Human Resources.  And one of your options is to return to HR or to take it higher; however, you might realize that is not your optimal solution. Just yesterday, my associate workplace doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe, answered a question about a financial manager  yelling at a subordinate whose report somehow was not delivered–someone who signed the question as Dignity.  This individual wanted respect and Tina understood that. Incidentally, although that Q&A has not yet been posted you might find other of the hundreds of responses by Tina to help you answer your question. She is the wisest person I know to promote understanding and civil harmonious workplace communication. Also you might find some of our other Q&As ways for whatever workgroup you end up in after being Sent Elsewhere to collaboratively establish effective do and don’t communication rules. Please let me know how you decide to answer your question. It deserves to be answered and you are one of the persons who best knows the situation and is much interested in getting it answered. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. –William Gorden