The Wrong Way to Confront an Issue

February 24, 2020

The Wrong Way to Confront an Issue

As I mentioned in the last post, sometimes you need to confront an issue. It takes guts, but it also requires skill if you want to minimize the damage to your career.

Let’s take an example of taking a stand where You had the courage but not all the skills.

The hot water way to confront an issue

Josh: Erin, your report says the quality has dropped seven per cent.
You: Because it has.
Josh: In your opinion. Okay, so it’s starting.
You: No, Josh, I told you—the tensile strength of the robo-bots isn’t high enough. He probably already knows this.
Josh: So what? Our toys require parental supervision—it always says so right on the package. They’re safe enough.
You: But if a kid over 60 pounds stands on—
This argument can and probably would go on for a while. Let’s skip ahead.
Josh: Lookit, I’m done arguing. Change the report or else. He’s losing his temper.
You: Or else what? So are You.
Josh: Don’t mess with me, Erin.
You: You may not have any standards, but I do. The fat is in the fire. A personal attack.
Josh: Standards, don’t give me fucking standards. Our job is to make a profit.
You: Not at the expense of the kids. You have taken the moral high ground.
Josh: You don’t think I care about kids? I’ve got two of my own.
You: And would you give them the robo-bots? A killer question, for sure.
Josh: I’ve had just about enough of your lip, Erin. You come to your senses or you’re outta here.

What happened?

So, how did you go from arguing with your boss to verging on being fired?

To be fair, you might not have realized things were going to escalate that quickly. But, if the objective was to keep your job as well as your self-respect, you did okay on the latter but put the former in jeopardy.

For one thing, when Josh started to lose his temper, so did you. You made the fight about his failings (no standards, no morals) rather than about the issue. And you had the killer question at the end which squarely put him in the wrong.

Was it wrong to take a stand?

Was it wrong to take a stand? Don’t know. Only you can decide that. You may well be right that Josh and the company have no standards and don’t care about the safety of their toys.

But I’m not focused on those issues. I’m discussing how taking a stand was done. If you compare this dialog and the one in the last post, you can see that you poured fuel on the fire by how you navigated the situation. Again, I understand why you did it and you may well be justified in your anger. However, while both this situation and the previous are probably going to lead to some unpleasant consequences (more of that later), by personalizing the issue to Josh’s standards and values, you have upped the chances that he will really be out to get you.

Next post: when to take a stand

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