How to handle an angry boss

Nov 2013
behaviourscommunicationin employment
Reference: Abintegro

Being shouted at on a regular basis is upsetting, unsettling, unnerving and it is definitely going to affect how you feel about your job. If your boss falls into the shouty category you will undoubtedly feel regularly stressed and worry frequently that it really is you and your ineptitude that’s engendering this behaviour in him or her. 

It’s not right that s/he shouts at you or your colleagues, but knowing how to deal with these outbursts may help to calm your boss down and bring some balance to the relationship.

First of all you need to try to be objective. Although you may have contributed in some way to his/her frustration you are not the cause and even if you were they have no right to shout like this. So the first thing you need to say to yourself almost as a mantra, over and over, is “this is not about me; this is his/her issue.” Mentally see yourself putting your hand up to block the onslaught. NB. Don’t actually do it or they could lose it completely. Edit what you hear, removing the words or gestures that stung, delete the tone of blame and get to the core of what they are asking for or saying.

Next you need to think about the causes for the outburst: has she got a lot on her plate at the moment? Did something go wrong recently with a deal? Are there issues with his homelife? Is she perceived as underperforming? Anger is often a cover for fear, so think about what may be the cause of that fear. It will help you to feel less defensive. The tendency to blame everyone else is often someone trying to shift the responsibility away from themselves, where deep down they know it lies. Make an effort to help your boss deal with the issues that have created the problems s/he is currently facing.

Your approach, however, is key. There is no point giving a lot of detail to someone who just wants ‘the bottom line’; equally there is no point trying to charm a boss who responds best to detailed, accurate data. Think about the way they work, their personality and give them what they need. You could try nonchalantly to find out (in passing) what their Myers Briggs personality type is (ESTJ is the most likely candidate); read up about that type and see if it helps you understand them a bit better. Try to adapt your style to enable the two of you to communicate more effectively.

Their behaviour is not your fault and you should never believe that it is, but you are in a position to do something to break the destructive cycle; so take a deep breath, gird your loins and do it!

For help or coaching on how to improve your relationship give me or Margaret a call on 07771 332204