Dealing With Bad Attitudes and Worse Behavior Around the Office

PR pros can be either the nicest, friendliest people you meet all day, or nasty ogres looking for a chance to flip out after a hard day dealing with an annoying client. Oh joy! You never know which you’ll get when you innocently ask, “Got a moment?”

So how do you deal with your boss when they’re acting like a snapping turtle out of water? Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant; How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job has a couple of suggestions. Taylor is also a former PR pro, so she’s got some experience dealing with this less than cheerful behavior in the firm environment.

Click through for her take.

Dealing with the Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT) by Lynn Taylor

What is a Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT), and what does it have to do with public relations professionals? Having been one for the first half of my career, we know that we have great smiles and handshakes, are blessed with perfect personalities – the kind that even allow you to get paid to represent other people – and last but not least, near-perfect teeth.

End of fairy tale.

Anyone who has spent a second day in a PR firm (the first day, everyone was tipped off to be kind), knows that you signed up for a pressure cooker with scattered moments of euphoria when you get recognition for your hard work.

Please your boss, please the other boss (“because we are now a Matrix organization”), please the news media, please your team (before they quit); and if you still have a significant other, please them with new ways of saying you’re gonna be home late again.

The result? Uncontrollable Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT) moments that happen when managers are stressed out or frustrated. We’re talking about grown adult PR folks feeling like they’re working in a sugared-up schoolyard, where tantrums, stubbornness, mood swings, irrational behavior, self-centeredness, and bullying can fester.

Every mortal being inside and outside of the workplace is capable of slipping into a TOT moment. It affects bosses, co-workers and staff, because human relationships naturally create conflict at some point. And some are better at hiding childish emotions than others.

So what can you do with TOTs running amok in the office? Use parenting skills – because whether we’re two or 52, we all have the same basic fears, instincts and needs.

This is where the acronym C.A.L.M. comes to the rescue:

Communication – make it frequent, honest, open and regular;

Anticipation – of what might be headed your way. Be keenly aware of how to help avert problems with good timing and offering proactive solutions;

Laugh – levity breaks down barriers and helps foster teamwork;

Manage -use “parent up without patronizing” tools. Set limits through positive and negative reinforcement. Role model positive behavior and let your boss know when things go right. If you’re treated poorly, learn how to become an Office Diplomat. As you know, packaging counts.

The onus is on you to spot a TOT, and put some real teeth behind that great PR reputation. With some behind the scenes TOT-taming, you can increase those moments of agency euphoria.