Tirades and Tantrums

Do you remember the last time someone yelled at you at work? Maybe that person became angry, for whatever reason, and communicated displeasure or disagreement with your idea by using cutting or sarcastic language. And while this person didn’t overturn desks or anything (I hope), he or she pretty much threw the adult version of a tantrum. Usually, this type of interaction only breeds negativity and can strain relationships in the workplace. I truly hope this scenario isn’t very familiar!

Photo Courtesy to Flickr User Cecilie Sonsteby

Renowned marketer Seth Godin brought up an interesting perspective on these types of interactions recently. He says in some industries and workplaces, we allow this behavior because it elicits a response – the “one who yells the loudest gets the attention” sort of philosophy. But, surgeons don’t have to raise their voices and pilots don’t scream at air traffic control to get what they need, says Godin. They are professionals; they merely ask. You see, we give the yellers and tantrum-throwers power when we respond to their actions. What would happen if we didn’t validate them and only responded to appropriate communication?

Or, look at it this way. Let’s say you have a need or request that just isn’t getting the desired outcome at the office. Are you doing the equivalent of the Big Bad Wolf and huffing and puffing to get your way? If so, try adjusting your communication approach and see what happens. Professionalism and respectful interaction go a long way toward achieving your desired outcome, regardless of your place on the proverbial totem pole. Besides, as Godin says, “A pitfall of throwing tantrums is that sometimes, people throw them back.”

Set out to define your workplace culture as a place of respectful and professional interaction at all times. If you struggle in that effort, and you very well may, make it part of your personal culture and creed to do so. My guess is you’ll be pleased with the results.