I lost my temper with an employee last week. I was working with a manager from another department first thing in the morning when I spotted her. I turned and said, “By the way Sue I need the numbers for the XYZ report as soon as possible.” She responded with, “A good morning would be nice.” Sue has a reputation for being rude and difficult to work with. Many days employees will try to engage her in pleasantries (such as saying good morning) only to be completely ignored. I wrote about her previously here. She doesn’t work for me, but she does create some of the spreadsheets I work with and provides me with numbers for her department. She doesn't consider the work she does for me a priority and I struggle to get the information I need on a timely basis. I finished working with the other manager and stormed over to her desk proclaiming, “You should talk about Good Morning, we are lucky to get a good morning out of you once every six months.” She stomped off muttering something under her breath.
I went to her manager and asked him to have Sue email me the numbers I needed A.S.A.P. They were emailed to me within a couple of minutes. I ran into another manager while still worked up, telling him what had occurred and proclaiming I’ve had it with Sue I am pulling my spreadsheets from her and giving them to someone else.
First he high-fived me for standing up to her. Then he patted me on the back and told me to calm down, “You know this is a women thing. Women can’t work together and they never forgive.”
At the time I wasn’t in the mood to start another argument, but what does both Sue and I being women have to do with anything. When I lost my temper it was because I am a woman (by the way I can count on one hand the number of times I have lost my cool with an employee). Or the fact that Sue is rude to everyone is because she is a woman. When one of the other managers (who loses his cool all the time) gets angry people don't say it is because he is a guy they say, "Oh that is just the way Scott is."
Did my angry outburst accomplish anything?
I did get my report and I made the point that I am not going to sit back and take rude behavior anymore, but my relationship with Sue is now more strained than ever. Now when she sees me she turns her head or walks the other way. I will have figure out how to work with her all over again. Work relationships shouldn't have to be this hard. I refuse to apologize.
The real problem:
The real problem is that Sue has been allowed to treat her co-workers poorly for years with no repercussions. Her manager refuses to acknowledge that she is a problem. My own manager always says we don’t have to like each other we just have to learn how to work with each other. I think learning how to work with each other should include treating each other with courtesy and respect.
For another take on anger in the workplace see FrauTech's post where she asks: Can anger be an effective tool in the workplace? Or is it always out of line?
What are your thoughts on anger in the workplace?