Although they are diminishing in number, there still are managers whose first reaction to stressful situations is to yell. Sometimes, it’s the people you’d least expect: something about pressure brings out the worst in them, and they react by chewing everyone out. Of course, the reasons why won’t make much of a difference to you, if you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. So how do you deal with a boss who is always screaming?
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1. Don’t mimic her behavior:
When someone just won’t listen to you and continues screaming, it is natural to want to scream back. In the same way, if somebody is speaking very softly, it is a natural reaction to bring down your own decibel level to match with theirs. If your boss screams, don’t scream back. It will only make matters worse. Instead, if you are able to bring your voice level down, you may be able to force her into bringing her pitch down, too.
2. Understand her triggers:
Assuming it’s not her general communication style, try and see what sets her off. Once you are able to understand this on the job, it may be easy to contain it. For example, if you know that she yells when she is working with one particular client, avoid having discussions at this time, if you can. Alternately, if you encounter a problem and know that it is going to make her blow her lid, try your best to go to her with solutions.
3. If you must have a discussion, focus on the content:
If your manager yells out of habit, you need to understand that it’s not you. As difficult as it may seem, try and focus on the content of what she is saying rather than the volume and tone.
4. Have a frank talk:
If there are times where the manager is in a good mood, try and have an objective discussion. Let her know, as diplomatically as possible, that her yelling is interfering with your work and confidence on the job. If nobody has ever had a discussion, your manager may just assume that her yelling is the best way to motivate her employees! If you know your manager is not open to feedback and believes that you need to mend your ways to work with her, then it is useless talking to her about her behavior.
5. Look around you:
How do people react to all the screaming? How are your teammates coping? It may be a good idea to talk to your colleagues who’ve been in the organization longer to understand how they deal with it.
6. Note the behavior:
Does your manager shout at you only behind a soundproof door or privately? If that’s the case, chances are that she is aware of the inappropriateness of her reaction and is not comfortable displaying it. Others may not even know that your manager screams. This may be good news, because it could be a sign that your organization does not tolerate this behavior and you can report her. If however, everyone is aware and tolerant of the screaming, worse even encourages it, your team/organization is not the right place for you. Get out as soon as you can.
7. Report the behavior:
Talk to HR or your manager’s manager if you are unable to stop the screaming and are fairly sure that the organization is unaware of your manager’s “hidden personality.” Escalate the issue and have it addressed. In general, HR or the department head should have a discussion with your manager to address your concern, after confirming the truth in your statement. If, however, you do not have confidence in them and cannot risk bringing up the issue, know your breaking point and make your exit plans accordingly. It’s just not a healthy work atmosphere in the long run.
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