Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dead dog

Do you feel bad when somebody yells at you? You know, that's the time to feel good. This is because people being angry or upset with you is far better than people being indifferent. "Love me or hate me, I got you. Ignore me and I have lost you."

OK, this is not to mean that all sort of yelling and personal attacks belong to this category. The things that belong to this category are the professional yellings you get from your bosses and constructive criticism from anyone.

OK, if nothing helps to make sense to believe that being yelled is a good thing, remember "nobody kicks a dead dog". People apparently kick a live dog for whatever reasons. You get yelled at because people still think you are important and can deliver something they want but are impatient with you. Being yelled at more and more is a sign that you have got them hooked. Do not take it too far though. Once the value of yelling exceeds the value that you provide, people start thinking that they rather spend their energy finding more responsive dog to kick rather than kicking you who is becoming a dead dog. So, keep wagging the tail, get kicked and feel important.

Becoming yellable is also a good quality. By becoming yellable, you make it easy for all kinds of people to provide feedback. If you are not yellable and take offense to being yelled at, then people being afraid of anti-harassment and other HR policies refrain from yelling but you lose out on their valuable feedback. So, even if you do not agree with their way of providing feedback, do not take an exception to that. Bear with it. Extract valid feedback and work on it. Also, do not let people to walk all over you. That's not going to earn you any respect either especially from your peers and subordinates.

When we are in the process of becoming yellable, it is not easy to put up with a boss or someone in the position of authority whose primary means of providing feedback is yelling. If the person is genuinely nice person, then telling that person in a diplomatic way that you very much value his/her feedback but when they raise the voice the point is lost. Sometimes people like such candid feedback and change their ways.

Then there is a category of people who yell at people especially the ones less powerful than them just to insult them and make them feel miserable. With such people,you have to develop a thick skin. If the position you are in really matters to you, then moving away from such people only lets them become more belligerent with you and others. That's the time to stand firm and take it to whatever level necessary to show such people where there position is. No organization tolerates people who routinely yell at people for no good reason. Smart people are aware that reprimands delivered in harsh ways only demoralize the work place. With such people, take it up with their higher authorities and eventually with HR as needed.

Actually even faking that you do not bother about the harshness of the yelling is the best way to go. People tend to develop respect for your maturity even if you are faking it. Whatever you do, do not ever lose your temper in a professional setting, that's the worse thing that can happen to a good professional in you. People will remember that one instance when you lost your cool. Even if your boiling, count till 100 and remain calm. Such virtues are more admired than someone raising their BP and acting like a jerk.

With all this, I am sure, you would never yell at anyone else. That goes without saying. There are professional ways to disagree, there are professional ways to provide feedback and there are professional ways to remove people who are not working for you. Whatever you do, do not 'kick the dog' that hard that it bite you so badly that you will lose a good portion of your leg :)


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