Friday, September 20, 2013

Work meltdowns

Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, Sept 19, 2013, says in today's open office world, temper tantrums and blowups are hard to keep under wraps.

Thirty percent of workers argue with a coworker at least once a month (study by Fierce). Heads pop up over cubicle walls like gophers.

Screaming, and hearing it, hijacks performance.

Sometimes this form of office theatre can lead to everyone rethinking subjects.

But often not resolving these smackdowns results in employees thinking they have something on the participants and trying to use the incident to their advantage.

If you find a discussion spinning out of control, try to find a way to step back and cool off.

Get out of the office. Take the rest of the day off.

Then try to refocus on the problem, try to get the other person's perspective, apologize.

Should you--a bystander--intervene? No, if you are an intern and the shouting people are higher ups.

Managers should break up disputes between subordinates, though.

There was a blowup on Project Runway last evening. The ever-present mentor Tim Gunn made the two apologize somewhat, but this was not the first incident for one of them, and he ended up being eliminated. The rest of the designers were upset and their work slowed.

So, word to the unwise...

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