I attended a Management training for young managers organized by the Human Resource Directorate. The sessions were very interactive, but what stood out in one of the sessions is how to deal with “ an out-ofcontrol boss”.
This can be very tricky for any junior staff because; the boss controls your fate at the company, you are not on equal footing and if not every careful, one misstep could cost your job. But if handled right, dealing with an out of control boss, is an opportunity to show your maturity and leadership potential.
If the boss screams at you, resist the urge to scream back, remain calm and listen. If you get the opportunity to speak, do it quietly, and do not let your body language betray what you are really feeling. It is also important that you own up your part. If the boss is screaming because you did something wrong, assume responsibility and apologize. Do not make excuses, but rather calmly share your plan for making it right. If the boss lashes at you in error, it is perfectly okay, pull back until the boss has cooled down and express yourself later on. The boss may realize the anger was not only inappropriate but also misplaced. Who knows!, an apology may come your way.
Then demonstrate empathy, the boss might lose temper for many underlying reasons, it could be work pressure, family or medical issues. Although, there is no good excuse for screaming at someone, but it helps to know that it may not be about you. This person may be struggling with a stressful situation, and needs to take it out on someone. If this is the case, express your concern. It will surprise the boss when you show kindness instead of anger.
Keep it to yourself, even if curious colleagues witnessed the incident, do not gossip about the boss. The boss will appreciate your discretion, and that you did not make matters worse by spreading the story. And your colleagues will see your mature response and how well you handled yourself and respect you. The one thing you can always control is your own response. Keep your emotions in check, and continue to act like the professional you are.