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All the girls in our office decided to go out for a girls lunch. We asked our boss (male) would that be ok and he said yes but he didn’t look happy. However upon our return he was agitated and called me into the office (being the supervisor) and blasted me about all and sundry. He was so angry he was shaking and really the things he was saying were just ridiculous. There are 6 of us so we all went in different cars and he timed how long we took etc. I truly believe it was an almond reaction to not being invited to lunch. Anyhow I burst into tears because he was being so unreasonable. Did I therefore have an almond reaction to his aggressiveness and is there a better way I could have handled it?
Here’s my reply:
Phew!! From what you say, it was a classic Almond Effect ® on his part! I wonder what that was about? What was he anxious about? Was there work to be done that he was frustrated might not get done and he had a lot riding on it? Was he fearful about being left out, talked about? Has he got a problem with a group of women having fun because of some past experience? I can’t possibly know without talking to him and I guess you can’t know unless you asked him. But certainly from what you have told me, your diagnosis was right.
As for your reaction, probably also right but don’t beat yourself up! Without you wanting it to do this when surprises like that happen, your amygdala interprets the event as a threat to job security, good relations with your boss, i.e. life as you know and want it – and then we react in ways that surprise us (the logical us) and afterwards we regret what we did!! Just learn from it and ask yourself what you could do differently if it ever happened again.
Without wishing to sound commercial, that why I wrote the E-book Where Did That Come From? – it gives a lot of examples of what other people have done and do in similar situations, starting with the ability to recognise what is happening to you and learning to distract your amygdala so your top brain has time to click in and get you back in control.
Hope that helps – whatever you do, don’t let it get to you. If you need to clear the air with him, think clearly how you’re going to do it, even write out a script and practice it with a person who loves you and wants to help, then go to it. Doing this pre-warns your amygdala that the situation is going to arise and hopefully allows you to stay more in control.
Otherwise let it go and try very hard not to store that memory. Whatever you do, don’t stop going out to those kinds of lunch – if you did that it would just reinforce your ‘fear’ of his reaction, and similar situations would cause you anxiety – whoever your boss might be.
Hope that helps. Taking it as you described, it’s a classic situation of poor self-control and self-awareness from a boss.
He is very insecure, young (only just 30 – most of us are in our 40’s and beyond) and I think he does worry that he is being left out. Will have to try and include him a bit more but still ensure we have our girls days. I really don’t think it had anything to do with work load although he may have been a little insecure about being asked something he didn’t know how to answer while we were out.
Do you know someone with IED? Intermittent Explosive Disorder? Yes it really exists – could it explain road-rage and other times when people lose it. Listen and find out.
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