I Can Be the Bad Guy

There’s a guy here where I work who looks exactly like me: handsome, bald, glasses, but he’s mean. He’s really mean. He yells, throws things, and makes grown men cry. Luckily, relatively few people have met that guy.

I don’t have to be so positive all the time. If I really wanted to, I could be negative. I can be demanding, and overbearing, and I can even force the guy on the serving line to give me extra hot wings on Thursdays if I really want them. I’m not saying this to brag. It’s just that I’m pretty well trained to be the bad guy when necessary. And yes, I’m a Sailor. I can use as much bad language as anyone, especially after a couple years of sea duty. When needed, I can be the loudest guy in the room, but it’s not a competition.

We’ve all had that boss who only has two settings, angry and insane. I don’t remember ever thinking that was the boss I wanted to emulate, or saying to myself that someday, if I really apply myself, I could be a raving lunatic at work.

I know how easy it is to start yelling and just keep at it. You raise your voice, you get an immediate response, things finally start happening, and you just never bring the volume back down. Trust me, it’s easy to be negative. If you want to be in a bad mood, especially when you haven’t seen family or dry land for a while, it’s not hard. If you look for a reason to be negative, you’ll always find one. Unfortunately, we often find more than we bargain for and get swamped in all that sort of stuff. I’ve seen it happen, and that negativity from one event can bleed into the rest of the day, the week, or every interaction you have with certain people. Negativity is an easy flip of the switch to turn on, but a lot harder to turn off. All I can say is that it takes practice to turn on and off when needed.

Being that angry guy for no reason makes me unapproachable, and that would be the beginning of the end. I’d much rather walk around and ask people to tell me something good. It’s the way I connect and show everyone that there’s plenty to be positive about. If my people aren’t willing to speak to me when I walk around, if they’re afraid to admit that they’ve made a mistake because they’ll get yelled at, or if they stop listening because it’s always too loud or I’m always on some soapbox, then I can’t be effective. My potential to make my organization successful will have met its end, and when that happens, I’ll be asked to leave. The angry ranting boss can be toxic, and anything that slows down communication is dangerous. In some jobs, that danger means less sales. In mine, it means less fingers.

Just like your goals, you have to choose your attitude, commit to it, and constantly work at it. I choose to be positive. I choose to write about the positive instead of a weekly rant, to ask for and share good things, and to smile. When the person in charge is having a bad day, everyone’s having a bad day. If that person in charge is you, you owe it to your people to have a good day, every day you can, so the rest of the gang can relax and do their job to the best of their ability.

Don’t get me wrong. There are days that should be tense, and maybe you should raise your voice when doing the dangerous things that deserve a little more attention and focus. When you have those moments, everyone will get, from your example, their own respect for the situations you take seriously.

Now, there are a few people out there who have met the angry Jamie, and sadly, more will in the future. I’ve been told it’s a traumatic experience. When someone finds himself or herself behind a closed door with the angry me, and all my equally angry friends, it should be for a darn good reason– usually associated with breaking the law or getting someone hurt.

I still remember, quite vividly, the day I met the angry version of my boss and his friends. And yes, it was traumatic. Amazingly enough, I was there because of my negative attitude. I refused to commit to my day job to help solve some of our challenges. I’m not being dramatic when I say that moment was the turning point of my career.

– Have you ever had the angry-all-day kind of boss?

– How did it affect your workplace?

– Have you ever met the angry version of me where you work?

– Have you had to put on your own angry face and be the bad guy, and why?

Have a great week out there.

– JT

James Tinker

About James Tinker

James was born and raised in Bangor, and left home at 18 for the Navy. Twenty-five years later, he retired as a Command Master Chief, the highest enlisted rank on a warship in San Diego. His popular blog series, The Day Job, shares personal and professional lessons learned through his career.