Verbal schrapnel

Today at work the most amazing thing happened.  I actually lived the kind of moment you see on West Wing or 30 Rock that normal working people view and think, “That would never actually happen in the office. People don’t talk like that.”

So, what happened? Basically, one of my co-workers exploded. Partially at me, partially at IT and I think partially at frustration at a lot of 2.0 changes making things move really fast and in really new directions.  It was an absolute shouting outburst on a conference call in which we all could hear him trying to stay calm and failing until finally, in a lava-like flow of expletives, he erupted and then slammed down his phone after shouting he was going to go tell dad his supervisor.

Now, this, this! This is what they used to do on West Wing and other shows, the ones where all the people really pulling together as a team for the greater good have a conflict and they end up working on the issue until they have achieved peace, harmony, professional success or at least a consensus on who to nominate for supreme court justice.

My first reaction was bemused… this was just this guy being this guy.  And hey, I can be like those people on TV and work with it, right? I always thought CJ was super cool. And truly, I believe both he and I and all the others who were on this call are indeed team players and can get some amazing things done. Besides, I have a job to get done for my boss and I don’t have the luxury of letting anxiety slow me down.

But, it turns out time doesn’t heal all wounds and in some case it can make them more evident. While I was unflappable at that moment, a few hours later I was furious and picking at my wounds. In addition to being unwilling to have a two-way conversation, he basically threw a grenade into the call… while we all ducked, it turns out the schrapnel did leave injuries. That’s no way to be part of the team.

These are probably just surface wounds, but people, remember this:  Verbal schrapnel has no place at work and is a bad way to problem solve. 


June 12, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.