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Timeless Principle #7: Are You A Screamer?

We’re more than halfway through our simple (but not simplistic) principles every managers needs to know. Let’s review the first six principles: 

1. Quit focusing on the outward appearance and concentrate on what’s on the inside.
2. Be a good listener.

Put Yourself in Your Employees’ Shoes
4. Be humble – nobody is good enough to be arrogant!
5. Allow people to have some autonomy – don’t micromanage them
6. It’s Not Always About the Money  

I’ve beat the topic of evil bosses to death in previous blogs so I won’t go there now, but we need to take a look at one of the most common behaviors of toxic bosses: emotional outbursts (a nice way to say “freaking out.”) Here's a newsflash: Ranting, raving, yelling, and screaming at employees won’t motivate them. They’ll actually think you look stupid and immature. 

All of us have probably experienced the stress of working around yellers and screamers, but maybe a look at why it happens would be helpful. Recently a colleague of mine, Melinda Ostermeyer, shared a concept with me surrounding an interesting part of the brain known as the Amygdala. This almond-shaped (yes, Amygdala is Greek for Almond) is the part of the brain that regulates the flow of Cortisol and Adrenaline which as you may know helps operate the “fight or flight” syndrome in us when we face danger.  

Here’s how it works. When you’re operating normally without stress, your brain is capable of processing multiple “bits” of data which helps us make rational decisions. As our stress increases, the AmygdahelpAmygdala flows more Cortisol and Adrenaline into our brain which has the effect of limiting the amount of “bits” we can handle. When we hit maximum stress, there is so much Cortisol and Adrenaline in us that we can only make ONE decision (which of course in the caveman days told us to run from the dinosaur or pick up a weapon and fight it.) These chemicals can stay flowing in our brain for up to 18 minutes, which is why it’s easy to keep triggering this reaction if stress continues.   

So what’s the point?  

Think of how you react to others when you’re stressed out. Do you snap at them? Yell at them? Even physically abuse them? If you know what tends to trigger your Amygdala, then begin taking steps to either avoid or manage it. When that particular situation arises, take a few deep breaths. If someone in particular has a way of pushing your buttons, either avoid them or at least limit your interactions with them, particularly when you’re already a little stressed. More than anything, realize how powerful the Amygdala can be and be mindful of it as you interact with others during your day.  

People around you will be drawn to you if you can be the calm and rational person when stress or problems arise. They won’t be impressed when you start yelling and screaming. Anyone can panic and freak out. Carefully manage your Amygdala and you’ll go a long way to maximizing your “people skills!”

1 Comments/Trackbacks

Great post. I once had a colleague who was a screamer--not often, but every once in a while--but it was definitely enough that it completely destroyed the respect every one had for him. I find that people tend to listen to you more if you lower your voice--then people have to concentrate to hear you. If 'screamers' could re-train their brains to think that when they get angry to whisper instead of scream, they would get much better reactions from people.

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