Let’s face it, we all get into heated situations in the workplace, whether through observation or active involvement. When taking the high road is not always the easiest or most instantly gratifying solution we need to remind ourselves of the big picture. I remember very early on in my career my boss screamed at me until his face turned red and veins protruded from his neck in front of everyone for a mistake he thought I made. Once he finished spraying his detest, holding my tongue I calmly asked him if we could continue the conversation in his office rather than put on a show for the entire office.
In his office I let him vent a little more and then told him what changes would be made to avoid the error from occurring again. I then proceeded to tell him in a stern yet politically correct manner that I would not tolerate being yelled at in front of my coworkers and that I would appreciate that he handled all future discussions in a respectful manner, as we are both adults. At first he gapped at me, eyes glazed over, but then he agreed and actually seemed embarrassed by his behavior. I was lucky that time that my tact had been effective. Not all situations end that way.
As managers, HR professionals, and coworkers, we would benefit from harnessing our inner “coolness” and learning to avoid or diffuse heated situations at work just as we do at Thanksgiving dinner when Aunt Betty has had one too many. The blog I’ve highlighted today provides a few helpful tips on this topic.