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Send your questions and concerns to Dr. Marie McIntyre. Marie has more than 20 years experience in coaching, human resources, and management.  She writes the syndicated column “Your Office Coach”, which appears in more than 70 newspapers nationwide. Marie has authored two books and serves as a workplace expert for the National Institute of Business Management.  (Due to high volume, not all questions can be answered, but Marie will respond to as many as possible. Your question may be reprinted online or in the newspaper column unless you request otherwise.)

Coaching Q&A

Should I talk to my boss about his angry rant?

I apparently crossed a line with my manager and made him extremely angry.  “Chad” never acts like a boss, so his reaction was quite a shock.

Chad and I work together closely and talk about a wide range of topics.  We have even discussed starting our own business.  He is very approachable, so I’ve always felt that I can be completely honest with him.

Last week, a coworker and I decided to clean up our rather cluttered office area.  We left three boxes of trash neatly stacked next to the wastebasket.  The department looked much more professional, so we expected Chad to be pleased.

Instead, he sent a nasty email saying that the maintenance staff is not paid to clean up after us and we should haul our trash out to the street.  I replied that we would remove the boxes and “would have done it even without your crappy email”.  It never crossed my mind that this was out of line.

Later that day, Chad came into my office, shut the door, and angrily exclaimed that this was not an appropriate comment to make to one’s manager.  Although he has seemed fine since then, I feel we should discuss this whole situation.  However, I’m not sure what to say.

Marie’s Answer

Unfortunately, you have learned the hard way that the boss is always the boss.  Even friendly managers expect to be treated with a certain amount of deference.  This realization often comes as a huge surprise to people whose bosses are particularly chummy.

That said, however, Chad’s overreaction to the trash boxes seems both highly inappropriate and rather puzzling.  Perhaps he was having a bad day, or maybe something else is bothering him.  But since you’ve always had a good relationship, there’s not much to be gained by rehashing this incident.

So, if Chad’s behavior has returned to normal, then just let it be.  Sometimes the wisest course is to simply allow unpleasant events to recede into the past.

NOTE: Questions on this page have been edited for length, grammar, and confidentiality.  All material on this website is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre.  All rights reserved.

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    Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

    Marie McIntyre has more than twenty years’ experience in career coaching and organizational development. She has held management positions in both business and government, including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company.

    Marie writes the weekly syndicated advice column, “Your Office Coach”, which appears in newspapers throughout the U.S. & Canada.  She also writes a monthly Career Commentary for CNBC.com and serves as a workplace expert for Business Management Daily.  Marie conducts webinars on a variety of topics related to leadership development and career success.

    As a consultant, Marie has assisted a wide variety of organizations, including Cisco, The Home Depot, Tyson Foods, the Federal Reserve, AT&T, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Habitat for Humanity. She has experience in working with business, government, and non-profit groups.

    Marie is the author of two books, “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics” &“The Management Team Handbook”.  She is frequently quoted in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.