T Nation

Confrontation Anxiety?


#1

So… I quite literally called my boss a dickless piece of shit about 30 minutes ago. (I’ve had another job lined up for a few weeks, so fuck it I thought)

Which… while this was EXTREMELY liberating, I noticed something that I thought I had been over for a while, and it all finally clicked in my head.

I can be berated, screamed at, treated like shit, or otherwise just disrespected and hold my own in an argument, no issues at all.

However, if I’m the one instigating, i fall apart. Like today, I went in to the office, had my case laid out, and enough built up aggression about the way he treated people to fuel a small war, and started shaking, I could taste the adrenaline, and I just didn’t want to be there anymore.

It drives me crazy, I’m not a freak, but I am 6’3, 210lbs, pretty lean, extremely confident and thorough in my actions, I take every step I can to be a good dude, I don’t feel like I have a lot to be afraid of, but if I’m the one approaching, my fight or flight kicks in and I start to lose control.

I’m the first person to keep a shouting match up in traffic, or tell my friends they’re being a dumbass, or throw someone if they do something out of hand in front of me, and I stay cool and collected (for the situation) for all of it.

Can anyone else relate?


#2

My job is to represent my client. Last year I chose not to confront a contractor on something and, and in turn, was confronted by my client on the matter. I realized the fear of failing my client was greater than addressing the shitty performance of the contractor.

… at the end of the day, I’d rather be told people always know where they stand with me, than to always wonder.

After that, it just switched. Idgaf about confronting someone who only seeks their own interests.


#3

Yeah, idk, throughout highschool I was pretty confrontational (all that damn testosterone), if someone had an issue I would be quick to approach them. Even up to my last job, being told you sucked ass and it was your fault the store/district was failing was pretty common place, and I always fought back.

I had the same issue firing people, but I never thought much of it (I imagine being 23 and being issued to fire a 45yr old single mother a week before Christmas without any information why would illicit a similar response from anyone) But it’s definitely in the same vein.

I just don’t like approaching people. Don’t get me wrong, this dude is an s-class peice of shit, and there isn’t an outcome for him that would be too fucked up.


#4

You are letting your boss control your emotions, don’t do that.

Think about it this way…

You have expectations (of your boss in this case).
Someone (your boss) has not met your expectations, so they are the instigator.
Now it’s your move to strike back and let them know that they are not performing up to your expectations.

I am guessing you are younger and in the early stages of your career?

Tomorrow is my last day at this job, I start a new job on Monday. As much as I now dislike my boss and some of the people at my current employer, all I say is “thank you and good luck”. It feels good to be a good professional example of what others should be like. Take the high road.

When I left my last place in 2014, I wasn’t so smooth about it. I didn’t give a full 2wk notice and it pissed them off, it was a little rough and that was something I didn’t want to go through this time. There have been a few times where I was asked if the last place could be a good reference for me, I couldn’t say “yes” for sure.

Another thing is, do you really think telling your boss he’s a POS is going to make him better? of course not! It may make you feel better for a short while, but that is a selfish endeavor. What you should do is influence him to improve, to help the people that are left there when you leave.

You’re going to have another shitty boss, what will you do then? Same thing? How about try to improve him/her without them knowing it? High-level ninja beats the fist pounding neanderthal in the long run.


#5

This. It’s a small world. Exiting on a bad note regardless of the environment is never a good idea. Word gets round.


#6

This is probably because it’s easy to be confrontational when you are talking to peers or those who you view as below you, on a social scale.

I think you definition of confrontation is skewed. Confrontation doesn’t always equate to a pissing match. It is just telling someone that their performance doesn’t meet the expectation that you had and, one/or both of you need to change or (less likely and usually where pissing match occurs) divert paths.


#8

No shit. It’s an evolutionary protection mechanism. The ones who were wired to treat hostile confrontation as a last resort lived and got to reproduce, the ones who didn’t were killed and here we are today.

This was just outright stupid.

I am almost 40 and I have literally (in the literal, literal sense of the word) never found myself in a name calling situation in a professional setting. Yes, I’ve been in arguments that have become heated but it takes the bare minimum of social skills to keep it from escalating. Even from a bastard co-worker/supervisor.

Your ex-boss sounds like a dick but we only have your side of the story. And even from your side, you don’t sound much better than him.


#9

It’s basically easier to react than it is to confront, because if person B who confronts you has already set the confrontational ball rolling you may well feel this legitimises an angry, aggressive response which quite possibly you’ve been wanting to make for a while but haven’t the lack of sense or cajones (depending how you want to look at it) to make.

I think, in essence what you need to do is practice the fine art of asserting without yoursellf without being aggressive (especially in a work context)…i mean you might be able to get away with calling some guy on a building site all the names under the sun, but in a lot of officey type jobs it only takes one stupid outburst to shoot your proverbial bollocks off!

Next time, before you ‘confront’ someone do this: Take at least a few minutes to really empathise with whoever has been atangonising you, take a deep breath, mentally re-hearse the first few lines of what you want to say & THEN confront if you still feel it’s necessary.

Anger & avoidance (which I think are your key issues here) usually make things worse, when you either A: Bottle it all up or B: Allow your inner raging ape to rule your mouth…the wiseman sees both extremes lead to bad things and chooses the middle path of coo, calm, confident assertivity.


#10

Sounds like you are the dick, and a shitty employee with anger issues. You better be a fucking executive level talented stud in your industry, because folks who pull the shit you did have it hold them back down the road.


#11

Whew. All these responses, I’ll try to just lay the situation out as clearly as I can, not to prove I’m right (I have had [and technically still do, more on that later] a flawless job history) so I was totally aware that it wasn’t… the… smart thing to do, and maybe not even the right thing to do. The original post wasn’t about what happened, it was about the anxiety that set in. But just to humor everyone:

It’s long so grab some popcorn.

PT. 1: The Calm Before The Storm

I started working for my girlfriends mother as a delivery driver for her company, I was developing some serious bodily issues at my previous job (heavy glass is no joke) and when she offered I decided to jump on it. She offered simply because in a few months she wouldn’t be involved because her company was being bought, so there would be very little time for any bad blood to brew up if I didn’t meet her expectations. (Generally I try to do my best at anything I do, and am extremely passive and friendly towards most people, however we all know that doesn’t mean shit when employing them)

So. I get hired through the soon to be owner, and was made 3 promises:

  1. A raise when I could be sent on deliveries myself.

  2. An evaluation when when I hit 90 days.

  3. Driving 75-90% of the time.

The last one is a big deal to me due to the stress on my body from my last job, and a promise is a promise no matter how big or small.

So over the course of the next few months all of those promises were broken.

Never saw the raise, never had an evaluation, and driving time was getting cut down to probably 20%

I’m not the best employee, our other two that had been there for 10+ years (two Hispanics) could run laps around me in every aspect of that job…
REMEMBER THIS

However, over the course of my brief 5 months there, I was never late, I never missed a day, and while I couldn’t keep up with the two T-1000’s, I never slacked off relative to my own abilities. I did get several complements, as well as being taken to lunch twice from one of the managers, as a thank you for doing well.

Cont.


#12

PT. 2: The Low Pressure System.

While not personally satisfied with the job, I enjoyed my coworkers, and I was passively looking for other employment opportunities on the side.

It took a few weeks to notice, but another employee (white) and myself, start to notice our new owner hounding the two Hispanics. Now our owner had presented himself as an extremely passive individual, so it kind of took us by surprise, so we just sat back and watched.

It became less and less discrete and soon enough it was outright in the open that he didn’t like how much they were paid. (They were paid very well, based off of their vehicles, but not unfairly for the work they put in) as for how it came out in the open, the previous owners husband/partial owner isn’t exactly tight lipped.

(And it wouldn’t make sense for him to senselessly drag our new owner down without merit, considering the deal hadn’t been signed yet)

As for why he didn’t like how much they were paid, well, the other location wasn’t exactly legal if you get what I’m saying.

I’m going to speed this next part along, because I don’t know all the details, a little above my paygrade:

The new owner was spending WAY too much money on equipment and personal endeavors, and ended up screwing himself out of getting a loan to buy the business. Yada Yada, he was trying to get out of any and all money could pay for the business.

And, it pains me to admit, but just how little I know of that made it really personal to me.


#13

Cont.**


#14

PT. 3: The Storm

Soon I finally start seeing the whole picture, through word of mouth, personal experience, and general morale.

I was being praised, and taken to lunch, and generally left alone to do what I wanted, while the two Hispanics were being pushed into a corner, and forced into quitting, because I could have only assumed labor costs.

We’re talking two guys that work as long as requested, every single day, each capable of doing the entire job by themselves, with literally 0 supervision (just to clarify, they were both doing the job with 0 supervision, and the previous owner wanted to sell because they simply didn’t want to keep up with the growth of the company, because it was completely ridiculous), these dudes that show up every weekend, off the clock, unannounced to help with any damages or maintenance they couldn’t get to during the week. I mean, I really can’t talk highly enough about these two.

Let’s fast forwards some more, after one too many of “get your slack asses to work”, “I’m your fucking boss you will listen to me” and “can you believe these lazy fucking mexicans” I realised it was a really ugly combination of our owner being cheap AND racist. (Which, sidenote, while I’m not some activist, or overly entitled anti racist edge lord, I really don’t fucking like it.)(Also, REMEMBER the two people I see working circles around me everyday, being pushed out because they were “lazy” while I got praised)

Basically, the Hispanics said fuck it, met with the owner, and told them they had enough, they’re out. Which made one of our office people leave too, (they were of the same mind as myself)

This hurt the previous owner a lot, she would invite them over for dinner and treated them like family, but she talked with them, and came to peace with it being their decision.

At this point, I was only there to help out the previous owner, she’s very passive, and soft spoken, and while she’s business smart, this new guy was a snake, and would wait until he thought they were alone to tear into her. (Remember, previous owner is my gfs mother)

Well it came to a head, the new owner fucking chews out previous owner and blames her for everyone leaving, saying it was orchestrated, that she’s trying to make the business fail, and pins everything on her in front of all the other employees (talk about unprofessional?) Which is comical at best, because she was trying to get them to stay as hard as she could, because she wanted them to stay at the job they previously loved… and obviously she wanted the money, if the business fails, she wouldn’t get it.

(Should be mentioned, the previous owner was out for 3 weeks due to serious dramatic family health issues, and that’s when the shit ball started to roll)

She calls her daughter (my girlfriend) upset, composure broken (which is something I NEVER thought I’d see, and shit finally hit the fan.

She said if I was ready, she wanted me to quit more than stay, but wanted me to let the new owner know just exactly what I thought of him. Because the other 3 employees and herself tried to bend his train of thought and it didn’t work.

So I prepared for a night, and now we’re here.

Cont.


#15

PT. 4: Final Notes and Closure

The actual argument that took place today I really won’t get into. It was fucking ugly, and involved business matters I really shouldn’t have been present for. I started off strong, but let’s just say it ended with:

The previous owners husband and myself vs. The new owner and his father in law (this sounds like some country shit, I apologize) and it got loud, rude, and threw everything on the table.

Now, after putting it all out there…

Was it right…? No
Should I have done it…? Fuck no, this was completely out of character for me.

(Sidenote, I think I worked myself through the original point of this post, I don’t do this, and I probably never will again, because I don’t agree with how I handled it)

Was there a better solution…? uh, yeah, two weeks notice and a Farwell.

Do I regret it…? No. I learned from it, I reminded myself why I try to be nice to everyone, and as an extra 1-2 punch, while I have another job lined up, I decided to post on social media and see if I could find some really good offers, and I had about 15 people offering to help me from different walks of life. Being nice gets you everywhere.

All in all it was an experience. Enjoy the fucking novel, it helped to talk about. Obviously there are small events missing, but this thing didn’t need to be any longer.

P.S. I’ll take a small victory here, the new owners father in law called me about 15 minutes ago checking on me and making sure I took care of myself, saying he respected my decision, he respected me for “having balls” (not what I’d call it) and wished me luck of my future endeavors.

The south is fucking wierd.


#16

You’ll have that with small businesses where people are largely uneducated, personally invested, and try to manage by force. Incredibly common in my opinion.

I’ve had a few different types of employers, and that stuff just doesn’t happen in larger businesses. Other goofy and unpleasant stuff does happen, but that’s the same almost everywhere.

I can do direct confrontation well enough, but to what end? Crappy business owners/operators with big egos aren’t going to listen anyways, which is what makes them crappy, so why bother?


#17

I suppose. I mean, I will fully admit I acted completely out of line, and it was premeditated, I wouldn’t pop off like that, more a shits and giggles kind of thing. Not to sound like I’m defending myself here, but it wasn’t related to any true emotions, sure I was pissed, but I wasn’t pissed enough to act out, more of a favor to a person I hold in high regard and wasn’t going to stand up for herself.

As for small business, you’re definitely right, another small business I worked for was the same way, very confrontational by nature, but it wasn’t so… sludgy. People just didn’t agree, they said their peace, and that was it. There wasn’t any underlying motive behind it. Manual labor isn’t really my thing anyways, I tried it for fun, decided I don’t like it, especially with the crowd I’ve seen.

Anyways, just to clear up another comment from earlier, yeah I totally was a piece of shit. I don’t have an argument against that at all, I remember the thought going through my head when I was a district manager, if someone talked to me like that I would have simply fired them and left the room. Just to clear the air on that.


#18

Eh, I wouldn’t fall on my sword too hard about it. In the end its just words.

Individuals aren’t the only ones that need to worry about their reputations. I’ve worked at one place that when mentioned regionally (and I’m taking greater Pittsburgh area) gets “Holy shit. Is that place a mad house or what?”. One guy even said during an interview- “Oh, you’ve worked at So-and-So? Let me guess- Safety problems?..”. We had a good laugh about that one.


#19

I hate when people say anything that is not outright violence is “passive/aggressive”

Sometimes you have to let shit slide and go with it in order to keep society running relatively smoothly…then there are times to say “HORSESHIT,ASSHOLE!”

My issue, probably like many others, is that if you let yourself even get started you’ll tend to go full bore and go totally nuts and therefore i think it’s better to be calm.


#20

Well thanks for the understanding words skyz, and you are absolutely right. I’ve only met one other person I simply didn’t like as much, and at least he was on drugs, this guy is just as bad sober. Hopefully he’ll earn his own reputation.

Nards, definitely. I’m more of a passive issue resolver, but I definitely agree that some people just need their ass chewed out. My dad was always the to get in people’s face, I missed out on that gene somewhere. I didn’t lose control or anything, I spoke clearly and concisely, my body just wasn’t having it I guess.

Anyways, this thread got derailed to shit, but thanks for the input everyone, (really, not being a smart ass) a little self discovery is always a good thing.


#21

Very insightful point(s).