On the subject of challenging work relationships, here’s a great post by Seth Godin…
Professionals are able to get their work done without using emotion to signify urgency.
When a surgeon asks the nurse for a scalpel, she doesn’t have to raise her voice, stamp her foot or even make a face. She merely asks.
When a pilot hits a tough spot, he’s not supposed to start yelling at air traffic control. He describes the situation and gets the help he needs.
And despite what you may have seen in the movies, successful stock traders don’t have to start screaming when there’s more money on the line.
Compare this to the amateur world of media, of customer service and of marketing. Whoever yells the loudest gets our attention. Twitter users who use cutting language to get someone at a company to feel badly. Emailers who should know better who mark their notes as urgent, even when they’re not. Politicians who take umbrage as if umbrage was on sale.
It should be clear (compared to say, astronauts and surgeons) that these people aren’t angry because so much is at stake. They’re angry because it works. Because attention is reserved in those industries for those who decide to demonstrate their emotions by throwing a tantrum.
The problem with requiring people to be loud and angry to get things done is that you’re now surrounded by people who are loud and angry.
What happens if you take a professional approach with the people you work with, rewarding people who properly prioritize their requests (demands) and ignoring those that seek to escalate via vitriol? What happens if you consistently enforce a rule against tantrums?
If you go first, by consistently rewarding thoughtful exchanges and refusing to leap merely because it’s raining anger, the people you work with will get the message (or move on).
A pitfall of throwing tantrums is that sometimes, people throw them back.