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When Lashing Out Makes Sense

Periodic eruptions can work to your advantage

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

While managers with chronically short fuses rarely get ahead, you can still let your temper flare on occasion to send a message. The key is to control your emotions even when you’re angry, and to behave naturally so that you’re not performing an act.

Choose opportune moments to lash out, especially if you want to jolt stubborn or ineffectual employees into shaping up. As long as you time your outburst well and don’t go overboard, it can work wonders.

Here are some situations when it’s OK to release some steam:

You need answers. If you’re rallying team members to improve and you can’t figure out why they aren’t producing at the level you expect, you may calculate it’s best to express frustration. Say, “I’ve asked for this three times. I want the answer, or your explanation for not having it, by 3 p.m. today.”

Your flash of anger can spark employees to speak up, if you keep quiet and appear composed after a brief blowup. But if you rant and rave uncontrollably, you will only be greeted with stunned silence and lose any chance for a dialogue.

You’re fighting complacency. Employees can get cocky or overconfident if they feel comfortably entrenched. You may need to rattle the status quo to get their attention.

Example: In a forceful tone, say, “Three months from now, you may look back on this time when you thought things would never change. But they will change—soon. And you can either prepare now or resist it and dig yourself into a hole.”

But remember: If you promise change in three months, you’d better deliver. And finally: Never lose your temper at employees over an honest mistake.

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