Question: I started a new job in August, and for the most part I really like it here. The thing is, I report to someone who yells when he's under pressure (which is most of the time). He's not being abusiveor insulting, he's just extremely emotional and loud.
I'm not used to this, and it leaves me dumbstruck. I can't concentrate well enough to answer intelligently when someone is holleringat me. The only other person who reports to this manager, and who has been here a long time, responds by saying, "Call me when you've calmed down and we'll talk," and then leaves the room. I don't quite have the nerve to do that, and I don't want to yell back, so can you suggest some other ways to handle this?
Answer:It seems your colleague is on to something. In any negotiation-- and make no mistake, this situation qualifiesas one -- the person who is ready to walk away, even if only for the moment, holds most of the power. "The least effective thing you can do is fight emotion with emotion by yelling back at someone who's yelling at you," says Steven P. Cohen. "If one party is emotional and the other stays calm, the unemotional one has far more leverage."The trickis learning how to use it.
Cohen is president of a consulting firm called The Negotiating Skills Company and author of a new book, The Practical Negotiator: How to Argue Your Point, PleadYour Case, and Prevailin Any Situation. He notes that, while some people use yelling as a deliberatestrategy to intimidateothers, your boss sounds more like "someone who's out of control and needs help learning how to cope with stress.
"He may also be dealing with personal problems, outside the office, that affect his behavior at work. But it's not your job to be his therapist"-- so, if you're ever tempted to go there, don't.
Instead, Cohen recommends you try one or more of these tactics:
1. Say nothing.
"Sitting there with a poker face or a quizzicalexpression, in absolute silence, is sometimes a good way to communicate that what someone just said -- or, in this case, how loudly he said it -- is offensive to you," Cohen notes. Wait until he runs out of steam and stops shouting before you continue the discussion.
2. Calmly explain why his yelling bothers you.
If you feel you have to speak, you could say something like, "When someone yells at me like this, it's very hard for me to concentrate. I feel as if we're really not communicating." There's an outside chance that pointing out the problem will embarrass him into lowering his voice, but even if not, having expressed what you're thinking will make you feel less like a deer in his headlights.
3. Talk very softly.3. 轻声说话。
An approach that Cohen has often seen work is to "talk in a very soft voice, slowly," he says. "Make him listen to you, even to the point where he asks you to speak a little louder." This can be effective for two reasons. First, it distracts the yeller from whatever is stressing him out and shifts his attention to the content of the discussion, where it belongs; and, second, the glaringcontrast between your voice and his might cause him to talk to you more quietly.