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Monday, September 22, 2014

Mad about You

One of the dearest friendships developed during my Pittsburgh tour (1991-1998) was with Sam Deep. During my most recent season “between assignments” my wife and I were taking certification instruction from Sam in his evolving Sam Deep Leadership Academy. Here is a man who has spent a good part of his life coaching people and companies in leadership. Now he is training others to do the same.

Sam has excellent credentials. You can check them out at Just look for the tab about Sam Deep.

Our time together in Pittsburgh had us engaged in numerous endeavors. We started a small group fellowship, a radio show, a prayer breakfast event, and a business advice column. We named the column, “Dear Workplace Counselor.” It ran for a couple of years in a health-related periodical.

I was reminded of that recently while reading a similar kind of approach. ( One of the questions posed had to do with what seems like unreasonable behavior from a boss. The man apparently has anger outbursts when he feels the communication from this employee is failing.

Apparently, the problem was such a concern that the frustrated employee took it to Human Resources. No help. Thus the letter to this advice columnist. The return response suggested documenting the situations as they arose and then discussing them with the boss. Hopefully, in a calm atmosphere, a reasonable solution can be reached—even in small steps.

Maybe. But unlikely. Only because most bosses don’t like being corrected by employees. Unfortunate. Workplace excellence slips when a boss is unapproachable.

Having made that observation, I’m more interested in addressing the anger issue. Anger responses can be overt. Or they can be subtle. I’ve watched coworkers get angry without yelling or being rude. But the hair on their neck gives them away.

In many contract and other legal disputes these days, people are considering having some form of mediation they agree to use. Human Resources would be a natural place for this to occur. In smaller firms, it should be possible for an employee to ask for the assistance of a mediator to help resolve a work related issue.

In the case of the angry boss in the story I mentioned, HR really should have stepped up to help. And employees should be careful about advancing a complaint without due process with the boss. Deal with the offending party first.

Anger is such a powerful human emotion with great potential for harm. The Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) Opening the window to the soul to confront anger issues will not only help you, but it may make your workplace a lot safer and more productive.

Being mad about you is a whole lot better than being mad at you.

That’s The Way WE Work. To connect via Facebook, click the link to the right.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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