I’m in Israel now (for workshops). I was traveling through Newark yesterday, and had to change terminals between the domestic flight that got me to Newark and the international flight that was going to leave from Newark.
Turns out, a bunch of other people had to change terminals too. The signs are so bad, none of us could figure out where we had to go. A nice gentleman in a red blazer gave each of us directions.
He was a nice man, but blind to the fact I was standing in front of him. (Ok, I’m five feet tall and he was closer to six feet, but I’m pretty sure he could see me.) I had to wave my ticket in his face before he could see me. So, I was a bit perturbed–my flight arrive late, the escalators were broken in one terminal, and now I’ve been waiting more than my fair share for the under 15 seconds I need to determine where I need to be.
A tall man stuck his face in front of mine, and started to interrupt. I exploded, “NO! You are NOT asking any questions. The next 10 seconds are MINE.”
Both the helpful gentleman and the interrupter were taken aback. The interrupter shrank back, looking as if I was about to use my fists. The helpful gentleman made sure I knew where I had to go. I’m sure they both wanted me gone 🙂 (I suspect the tone of my voice was so out of their expectation for my appearance and their assumptions, that I shocked them into submission. Works for me 🙂
I have a terrible temper, so I work hard on not exploding. Mostly because I’m never sure what I’m going to say. I’ve been known to say awful things when I was younger. I want to be sure that the situation is worth the explosion. This one was.
In general, if you’re a PM or a manager, there are very few times at work when you want to explode in anger. Sure, you can be frustrated. You can be angry at a situation. But unless someone is deliberately preventing the team from working together, it’s almost always worth counting to 10 and then using a reasonable response. However, when feedback or coaching of the person frustrating you is not an option, honest verbal anger is ok. I did manage to refrain from calling the interrupter names; I had several on the tip of my tongue. But that wouldn’t have gotten me what I wanted–directions to the correct line.
Being a manager doesn’t mean you don’t have emotions. It does mean you manage them and deal with them honestly. And you don’t use your temper to berate or belittle other people. (Journaling can help you recognize your emotions and how you use them.) Acknowledging your emotions and expressing them honestly are key to your management success.