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Three ways to manage a yelling boss

Speaker, educator and executive life coach Monique Caissie recently wrote a blog for the Canadian Huffington Post describing how she handled a former boss with a nasty temper. Here are a few snipets from her story, including her three tips for managing your boss’s temper tantrums.

Caissie started working at a company where the boss had forced out two secretaries and an office manager within the space of a year. At the interview, he claimed his previous employees “didn’t get him”. Another employee who was leaving warned her about his temper, but she accepted the job anyway.

On her second day, the boss shouted at Caissie to get a file for him. She deliberately brought him the wrong one, waited for his expected rant to end and calmly told him she couldn’t hear him clearly when he yelled, got him the right file and explained that she was happy to help if he stayed calm.

The boss went on to “fire” Caissie four times during her employment, but she would always remain calm and wait for him to realise what he’d done and retract his statement, usually negotiating a pay rise out of the situation.

So what are Caissie’s tips for success?

1 Set boundaries – The sooner you set and stick to boundaries the better. A temperamental boss will test them from time to time, but you have to stand your ground. Caissie learned this from working with dogs but says it works with executives too.

2 Stay calm – A temper tantrum might be upsetting and will probably take you off guard, but keeping your cool is the best course of action. Caissie continuously reminded her boss that she couldn’t understand him when he yelled until eventually he stopped shouting on his own.

3 Develop a consequence for negative behaviour – Parents are taught to look for natural consequences for their kids’ tantrums and Caissie says that lesson applies to adults too. Come up with a very real cost for your boss’s shouting, such as threatening to leave if the behaviour doesn’t improve.

Sometimes even the most professional person has to face up to the fact that they’ve had enough. Your emotional health is too important to sacrifice it for the sake of a job. If your boss’s abusive behaviour continues, it’s time to consider whether a new job is the answer.

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