February 10, 2014
Exert authority at work without yelling
Ever watched a co-worker or boss lose his or her temper and yell or scream at someone at work? Odds are you lost some respect for the person while you overheard the emotional scene.
Is it possible to show authority without yelling? Absolutely; here's how.
Attack the problem, not the person. To be taken seriously and get your point across in any work situation, focus on the problem instead of the person.
Conduct research before you open your mouth. Before any discussions where you exert your point of view or share constructive feedback, conduct adequate research to make sure you understand the situation from all angles and can back up your point of view or comments with solid facts, e.g. objective versus subjective.
Change your tone of voice. Raising your voice or yelling isn't necessary, but it can help to use a tough tone that demonstrates the seriousness of your comments. This is especially true if you're speaking with a subordinate about a behavioral issue.
Adjust your nonverbal communication. Act in a serious manner by leaning forward during the discussion and being fully engaged. It can also help (depending on the topic) to have backup documentation with example proof points.
Choose the right location for discussions. Another important aspect of getting your point across and demonstrating authority is where the discussion takes place. For example, most situations where a sensitive topic is discussed should take place in a location that offers privacy, such as an office or conference room with the door shut. Here's why:
• When the criticism is from manager to subordinate, a one-on-one meeting lets the subordinate know the topic of discussion is important. Further, managers should never discuss an employee's poor behavior or performance in front of other employees. To do so demonstrates a lack of professionalism.
• When the criticism is from subordinate to manager, holding a private discussion ensures the subordinate won't embarrass the manager in front of others. Subordinates who "attack" a manager in the presence of others may find their actions damaging to their career. A subordinate who meets one-on-one with a manager to discuss an issue or point of view, or to provide constructive feedback and offer recommendations, may find that this approach helps improve the relationship with his or her manager.
Bottom line: To earn respect at work, exert authority without yelling or screaming. To do so, attack the problem, not the person. Human compassion and rational situation analysis will always serve you much better than raising your voice or being overly emotional to get your point across.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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