Get Mad Back

Published: Feb 05 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith


Get mad back? Not so sure.

Couple of things have passed my desk this week that have prompted this blog.

The first is something that happened to me on one of our Advancing Negotiation Skills courses. One of the participants was asking about how to deal with difficult people. I suspect we have all come across them in our lives be it work or personal. As usual to give myself time to ponder and consider a response, a kind of adjournment, I asked the rest of the group if they had any ideas.

Now a bit more detail.

The kind of difficult person in mind was someone who would not listen, raised his or her voice, questioned parentage and was to put it mildly a complete arse. Not reasonable in any way.

One of the group said that their favoured response when dealing with irrational behaviour, was to be even more irrational and shout even louder in return. Rather in the way of Elliot Ness and his famous Untouchables, if they shout loud you shout louder. If they bring a knife you bring a gun style.

The next day I read a piece in the Times newspaper that said something along the same lines. The article was entitled “Why standing up to bully bosses works”.

Apparently a piece of research done by Bennett Toper at Ohio University found that employees who fight back against hostile bosses tend to be better off if they return the hostility.

In the study which was published in the journal Personnel Psychology participants were first asked how often their superiors ridiculed them or told them that their thoughts and feelings were stupid, and what the participants’ reactions to such behaviour by their bosses had been.

Seven months later the participants in the research were asked questions about job satisfaction, commitment to work and overall levels of distress and negative feelings.

Those who had reacted with hostility to hostility appeared to have higher levels of satisfaction in their jobs, less distress and a higher level of commitment to their future in the company. The degree of this mirrored hostility could be all the way from passive aggressive; simply ignoring their boss, or completing tasks half heartedly, to shouting back.

What was more surprising perhaps was that this returned hostility did not appear to harm their future prospects. Indeed it seemed to make them more admired and respected.

Occasionally and unfortunately we have to deal with aggressive and difficult people in our negotiations, and whilst I am not sure I would feel comfortable or find it productive to shout at a supplier or customer, I certainly agree that rewarding bad behaviour is very bad news.

Often this mood can prevail even before you get into the negotiation itself.

See Stephen White talk about why Wrath is one of the 7 deadly sins of negotiation preparation

Keep your behaviour in check. Be assertive but not angry. As one of my colleagues says be aggressive with your objectives but not your attitude.

Alan Smith


SHARE

Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

Read more about Alan Smith

More posts by Alan Smith

Latest Blog:

Collaborating with the Enemy

Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday last week urging her political enemies to ‘contribute and not just criticise’ was met by a barrage of exactly the criticism she was asking them to eliminate. A Labour spokesperson said that it showed that the Conservatives had completely run out of ideas and were now reduced to begging, and the Scottish Nationalists line was that if she was serious about collaboration, particularly on Brexit, then she should have offered the SNP a seat at the Brexit negotiations, as they have been demanding for the last year.

Latest Tweet:

Scotwork UK Limited
7 Fortrose St
Glasgow
G11 5NU
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1413573989
info@scotwork.com
Follow us
Scotwork 21092 - Training Course.png
voty2016_sign_gold.png