Temper Tantrum

Question:

I work 90 hours a week. Supposedly our company’s administrative staff supports those of us who run the field jobs as well as the higher-ups. But they don’t. One of the administrative assistants has a snarky way of saying, “You can look that up on the server yourself,” when I ask her a question. She doesn’t get that I’m out in the field working full out, and if I stop work to look up something that “only takes a minute,” I’m not keeping my eyes on what I need to be doing to finish the projects that pay her and everyone else’s salary.

It’s not like the administrative staff are so busy they can’t help. When I’m in the office I see them texting, chatting or strolling to the break room to grab a cup of coffee.

I called Ms. Snark this morning and asked her to look up something for me. She said, “It’s on the server but if you need the answer and don’t have time yourself, I’ll help you locate this tomorrow.”

I’d had enough. I blasted her, reminded her that “tomorrow” was Saturday and I’d be working but she wouldn’t be, and that I “DON’T HAVE TIME” or I wouldn’t be asking her. I used a few choice words. She told me off and then told the office manager that I’d been mean, and both of them went teary-eyed to the General Superintendent.

I’m now ordered to pay for “anger management” training on my own and take it on my own “off” time. Is this f—– up or what? Can a company order me to use my own time for training?

Answer:

If you’re an hourly employee, your company needs to pay you for your time. If you’re exempt, you won’t get extra pay.

While I agree that you’re only part of this problem, Ms. Snark’s bad behavior doesn’t justify yours. In the long run, anger management training may pay off for you.

Here’s what you’ll learn. Although many use anger to control others’ actions and feel powerful in the moment, outbursts fail as a problem-solving strategy and often backfire.

You’ll learn to act rather than react when others push your buttons or frustrate you. For example, when Ms. Snark first dissed you, what if you’d contacted the office manager and said, “Hey, I thought the administrative staff supported the field. Could you let her know we need fast answers when we call?” If you’d done that, you’d have been part of the solution instead of being labeled the problem.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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