His Boss Yells

A young manager preparing to present his sales plan to his boss, Fred: “It’s going to be tough,” he told me.  “He’s going to yell.  He yells.”

“What do you do when he yells?”
“I just shut up and look at the floor.”
“What else could you do?”

He looked at the floor.  I took the notes from his hand, leaned across the table and yelled at him:

“You think this will work?  It’s sloppy. You’re going to fail.  You’re wasting my time with this crap!”

He stood up.

“Look, you don’t have to yell.  I can hear you.”
“So why am I yelling?”
“You’re scared.”
“What am I scared of?”
“We just can’t fail.  You feel like you’re the only one who cares.”
“OK, let’s try it again: You’re wasting my time with this crap!”
“Fred, I can hear you.  I know how important this is.  We have to make it work.”

We practiced until his response was reflexive. He called after the presentation with a hint of disappointment in his voice:

“I was ready, but he didn’t yell.”
“Why not?”
“He saw I wasn’t afraid.”