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How a boss feeds the circle of yelling…16 Apr 2008 07:08 am

c-yell.jpgMy husband and I are the bosses of our kids. That’s how we see it.

We run the household and the little tikes do what we say. They eat what we make for them. They fix their beds. They follow orders.

We’ve stressed this to our kids from a very young age.

When my daughter Circe was about 2 years old, she kept asking me over and over why she couldn’t do something. Over and over and over again. You know, that kid thing kids do. They keep asking in different ways until you reach your breaking point.

So I yelled, “Circe, this is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship.”

To that, she asked, “A potato chip?”

OK, so she didn’t know what the heck I was talking about. But the yelling seemed to be a bit cathartic for me.

Sometimes children and employees push us to the brink, and we blow up like Mount Vesuvius.

But the other night I realized that my yelling is not lost on Circe. I yelled at both my kids about creating a mess in the kitchen right before we were supposed to have dinner. Well, later in the night I heard Circe yelling at her brother Cheiron because he took one of her toys. I told her not to ever yell like that, but I realized I probably started the yelling circle.

Coincidently, the next morning my intern Katherine Guiney told me about this funny clip from the show “How I Met Your Mother”, where one of the characters talks about this very thing, a chain of yelling or screaming that starts with a boss.

Here’s the clip (Sorry about the commercial they force you to watch to view this clip. Turn the volume down until the show starts):

There might be something to the circle/chain of yelling.

I wrote about bad bosses for MSNBC.com a while back and a lot of you out there seem to be in the midst of yellers.

A survey of more than 60,000 people conducted by MSNBC.com and Elle magazine found that 16 percent had bosses they considered bullies, 18 percent said their bosses were rude, 17 percent had managers that were short tempered, and about 7 percent said their bosses yelled frequently.

Many career experts I talk to say workplace bullies and yellers tend to turn up the volume during tough economic times. (And you think we have it bad in the U.S., check out the UK. One study shows bullying there is so bad workers are thinking of moving out of the country.)

I interviewed Stephen R. Covey of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” fame and he had some great advice for people who work with yellers and bullies like me.

Turn the leadership tables on your boss, says Covey. “Take the initiative and think through what … his problems are. What are his concerns? What is he trying to accomplish? Then, when emotions are not high present him with an empowerment model.”

Basically, offer your boss a detailed plan of action where you could pick up certain assignments or functions that will make his or her life easier. You should frame it in a way that you’ll both be looking at how it succeeds. If it does he or she will develop confidence in you and your abilities, Covey says. “As his confidence in you comes up, the bullying will become much less,” he says.

It might be tough to take that first step and approach your boss, but Covey says you need to take the initiative and have courage. “It’s not about the absence of fear but the awareness something else is more important.”

Ok, ok. I get it. I asked my intern if I ever yelled at her? She said, “not like that,” referring to the TV clip.

That was good to hear. Maybe I will tone down the yelling at home as well. But I still plan on running the home like a potato chip.

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