What do you do if your boss yells at you?

Well it is probably one of the most heinous things if your boss yells at you in a public place, in front of other teammates, employees or even a third person other than you. There certainly is an unwritten code about passing negative information or offering critical feedback. You are not allowed to do that in front of a third person. For an applause or a passing on an accolade, nothing like a public appreciation. As per research that works as a much stronger reinforcement compared to money or any other additional perks that a company can offer.

However – no matter how basic these things are, there are an unfortunate few bosses who go up to that level without good training in human management. I certainly don’t understand why they get promoted to a generalist role based on their performance in a specialist role. But I guess there needs to be some way to train them as well. Nevertheless assuming a situation where your boss does this, he shouts at you or raises his voice or makes you feel uncomfortable, how would you tackle such a situation?


Shout back at him? Go to the HR and lodge a serious complaint? Quit your job and start searching for a new one? Ask for an immediate replacement of the manager and declare you cannot work with him? Write it on a social media and also try and get the press?

Well all the above solutions may actually work but the question is whether they would work in your favour. So what better can we do to address this?

1)    Try and understand why it happened in the first place

If you take this complaint up and talk to anyone about this, this would be the first thing they will ask you. What was the very reason as to something so violent and unprecedented to happen? What was the fault that the manager was trying to make right for? Was it just his frustration he was venting on you or was there a genuine fault. Well the idea of a complaint would not be to say he was wrong and you are right, the idea is to make sure that something like this never happens again and he apologizes for the same cos something like this is definitely not acceptable in the work place

 2)    Talk to your manager

Try and understand as to why he did it in the first place. Was it because a customer was sitting on his head applying pressure on him or was it something from your fault. If it was your fault, be the bigger man and apologize, it is always a nice thing to do it. Not cos he is better or right, it is because you are better and being the bigger man/woman. And once you do that, please assert that it is unacceptable that he shouts at you in public. It is a serious no no and tell him that it will not be received well. I agree that he might be a manager but that doesn’t mean that he can overstep his boundaries and start riding on your personal life. He doesn’t have the right to.

 3)    Analyze your options

While hearing a complaint, one of the first things a HR would do is try and assess how valuable an employee you are. Well in that case, do it for them. This way you are ahead of the situation. I am not saying that your manager can do it if you perform badly, he is not entitled to do it in any situation. But having a comprehensive list ups your odds

 4)    Meet the Human resources.

Not many people like it when someone complains. So even when you go out to meet the HR, explain the situation to him as objectively as possible. Tell him as to what exactly are the reasons why you think that he shouted at you ( Again, please ensure it is very objective and just about the job – The HR needs to see you as the more mature and the bigger man). And tell the HR how you felt and why it hurt. Try and touch the humanistic side. The conversation is never about rules or books and behaviours, it is between two humans, touch that side of him. Ask his suggestion as to how you can deal with it. Ideally it is not advisable to suggest him what to do. I am sure you’ll know the best things to do – like hanging the manager ;). But ask his suggestions, try to ask him how he would deal with such a situation – not in the exact same words but in essence. You are trying to take a suggestion here and you are being the bigger person.

 5)    Look at the bigger picture

When you file a complaint or an observation, talk about the bigger picture. Talk about the message it sends to the public when something like this happens. How it would be perceived amongst different divisions of the company and how it would be perceived in the external world when someone is treated this bad.

Something to remember it is very easy in a conversation to flare and backtalk, but something even more productive would be to show how mature you could be in handling such a situation. And for a company, it is much harder to let go of someone who can understand the importance of the details and yet look at the bigger picture. It conveys a very strong information that you’re still putting the company ahead and trying to look for a solution than feeling bad about what happened which reflects as a very strong attitude.

Well if nothing works – Screw them! If a company is too busy not to concentrate on the important things in life, it is not going to make a difference in the long run as well. Its best to move on.

 I guess most solutions may seem a little from retrospect, but I guess most lessons have always been in retrospect haven’t they? 😉


Image – shuttershock.com



4 Responses to "What do you do if your boss yells at you?"

  1. Very nicely listed, Vinay.
    All office-goers must read this. Yelling in public is an absolute no-no.
    One-to-one conversation ought to be there.
    But, sometimes, the whole idea of the Boss might be to show her/his subordinate in poor light & humiliate the latter in public as perhaps the Boss feels threatened or for other reasons…

    1. True Anita, I really understand why people take office behavior for granted. I mean its as pristine as our social life and we do spend a great deal of our time at office. All I can think of is – HOW DARE THEY?. A very valid point that you mentioned. It perhaps is a way for the boss to have his ego satisfied and get a boost at the cost of others. For such people, all I can say is they need to grow up.. Self respect is from within, the more they try to get it from outside, the more they are headed for a loss.

      Thank you Anita, really nice view, would love to keep hearing more from you 🙂



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