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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 6, 2006

Around hot-tempered boss, try to stay cool

By Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.
Knight Ridder News Service

Q. My boss is sarcastic and likes to yell at us. When I confronted him about this, he blew up. He threw his arms around and his face got red. I said that I had to get back to work and left his office. Since then, he is barely speaking to me.

A. "Dimwit" is my term for people like your boss who have little control over their emotions. Dimwits anger easily, lash out at others and create tension. Working for one of these emotional powder kegs can make your life pretty miserable.

If you plan to stay in this job, you must immediately lower your expectations. This dysfunctional manager is never going to become the helpful, supportive boss of your dreams. You will be better prepared to manage the situation if you expect him to be quick-tempered and difficult.

Common sense should tell you to stop criticizing and correcting him. Criticism will only anger your boss, who, like the lion, may retaliate in ways that negatively impact your work assignments, performance review or paycheck.

Do your work, be pleasant and avoid confrontations. Like it or not, he's in the power position and you're stuck with him until one of you changes jobs. Your challenge is to create a productive relationship.

Since he is now barely speaking, you have your first opportunity to start improving the situation. Initiate a friendly conversation about a topic that is safe and pleasant. In the future, when your boss gets angry or upset, don't add fuel to the fire.

Remember that if the stress becomes too great, you can always polish up your resume and seek a calmer environment. Life is too short to be miserable for 40 hours a week.