Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Mr Angry

Do you know that not once during the ill fated Apollo 13 mission did Mission Controller Gene Kranz lose his temper, raise his voice or show any other sign of stress?

Despite what that chap that used to hang around with Fonzie might have shown you to the contrary in is otherwise excellent movie: nor did anyone else involved, be it on Earth or in the heavens.

Let's face it: most of the decisions that most of us make in our day to day jobs are hardly life threatening: unless, of course, you are a practising Neurosurgeon or happen to work in a life or death role.  Even there, with people that you would expect to be jumping around the place shouting "stat" a lot - the reality is that those that are really, really good at what they do barely ever raise their blood pressure above room temperature.

If Gene, Jim Lovell, Mr Brainsurgeon or the others were to lose their tempers and let their frustration shown it would be seen as a signal that they were losing control: they would lose faith from those around them and more importantly: they would lose respect.

So why is it that in so many work places we continue to allow Mr Angry to be seen as a good role model?  Why is shouting at people allowed as a tool of getting them to work more productively.  Why is using swear words as punctuation seen as a sign of strength and power, as opposed to stupidity?

I'm sure that there are professions where constantly being shouted at is a necessary part of training: for instance in the Army one probably doesn't have much time to think, so honing an instinct to act immediately is a vital part of survival.

But most of us don't work in the army, or in any situation where we are likely to receive any worse injury than the occasional paper cut (and in the increasingly paperless offices of today...).

If something goes wrong with your job today: what's the worst that's going to happen?  OK: so there may be financial penalties somewhere if you miss a target, yeah: so your customers might be inconvenienced if your website goes down.  But unless you are the chap in charge of the lazer that is pointed at the impending meteorite it is unlikely that any of this will cause major catastrophe or death.

So why shout?  Why ruin someone's day and make them miserable at work?  Sure: we all lose it from time to time, but when your only tool of gaining respect is to induce fear then I'm afraid that you've already failed in my book.

NB: Having said all the above about not shouting - i've just seen that Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys has died aged 47

Although I'm not a big fan of hip-hop I think it's worth a shout out to someone who professionally shouted at the end of each RHYME and bought the world such classics as "Sabotage" and the below - which contains one of my all time favourite amusing lyrics....I'll stir-fry you in my wok/like a pinch to the neck from Mr Spock....genius.


Stephen Hayes said...

I don't shout very much and rarely let my anger show, but this is how I was raised. In countries like Italy, ranting and screaming and yelling are everyday occurrences and everyone takes it in stride. Many times I've walked down Italian streets and seen altercations that back home would have resulted in bloodshed. but minutes later everyone is laughing and slapping each other on the back. And I hear their blood pressure is lower than ours.

The Bug said...

I work in the collection industry, and a collector's ability to collect on debts IS a matter of life & death! At least that's how management views it... Thank goodness I'm not on the collection floor - I would have been fired for insubordination by now.

English Rider said...

Catching more flies with honey than vinegar is a way of life that has genuinely proven more effective than the pissed-off, head-butting approach that was my earlier technique.
"Is this the hill I want to die on?" and "How best can I move this forward and to my advantage?" are great mantras in situations where I might otherwise lose my cool.
There is always the satisfactory, yet polite retort "Thank you for sharing that with me" if you really want to see someone go apoplectic.
Peace-Out :)

p.s. my daughter works in the pain management field so many of her dealings are with people with chronic pain or who are drug seeking. She and her colleagues go to seminars just to learn better coping skills. She has a great line "Excuse me Sir/Madam, I just wanted to let you know that this conversation will be coming to an end very soon. Was there any last point you wished to add?"

Anonymous said...

Almost worse than the shouting and the swearing is the passive-aggressive posturing. The way correlations are strung up that are way too weak to support the evidence to the contrary.

Just sayin' . . .

Argent said...

I usually only shout and desk-thump on my own, and nearly always because a computer rather than a person has annoyed me. It's stupid and unproductive in any case. No-one's ever yelled at me at work - that would be a poor life-choice for them.

Lydia said...

This is just brilliant. If our printer wasn't out of ink I would print it for my husband to read before work, but instead I am emailing it to myself to show him over the weekend. Everything you said totally resonates with me....with many people, I'm sure, unfortunately.

Michael said...

There was a lot of shouting at my karate tournament. None of it angry though. Wouldn't it be nice to put a shouter in an arm lock and make him apologize? And if he doesnt then he gets a front snap kick in the soft part of his belly followed by an elbow strike between his shoulder blades. (Yes, I have anger issues.)