Career and Money Advice At The Intersection Of Business And Technology

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When a colleague gets out of control

September 12th, 2008 · No Comments

I once had an "out of body" sort of experience.

I was in a meeting with VP of Sales,CEO and several members of the senior management team. I was presenting a spreadsheet model I developed to figure out what price we should charge for a product that we were about to release.

The VP of sales got into an argument with the president. It’s apparent that the VP of Sales wasn’t prepared for the meeting — he even didn’t have a basic understanding of how the model worked. As the argument got more and more contested, the VP of Sales suddenly looked at me, and said that "it was all your fault. I asked you to come up with the model, and it took you three weeks. I just think that you’re not doing your job. You need to get your stuff together!"

It was dead silence in the room — everyone knew that I was simply helping the sales VP — it wasn’t even supposed to be my job to help come up with the model. I was trying my best to help. And there was nothing wrong with the model. It’s apparent to everyone that the sales VP just didn’t fully understand the model. Even he himself admitted during the meeting: "Can you please explain this to me? I’m slow at this sort of math."

He couldn’t win his argument with the president. He was looking for a scapegoat. As the lowest ranking employee in the room, I was the natural target.

How should I react? I didn’t say anything, and kept my composure. I continued to present, and addressed some of his questions/arguments. I treated the whole thing like a regular meeting.

After the meeting, the CEO came to my office and said "he got a little bit carried over. Hope you’re okay". Another colleague came by and said that "you handled it like a man".

People can tell what is right, what is wrong. When you get emotional and out of control, you lose.
When someone tried to rattle you and made you mad, don’t give them the permission. Stay calm, you win.

Tags: Frustration@Work

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