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Friday, November 18, 2011

How to deal with hotheads at work

For the first time in a while I arrived at work feeling completely refreshed.  The patient load was way down and the milieu of the RT Cave was relaxed.  All was going well until my boss handed me a sheet of paper with a few errors I made the last day I worked.

No big deal, I thought.  With lots of time before my first treatments were due, I wandered to the lab to result an ABG I did two days earlier.  The process was a little more complicated than I expected on the new system, yet after clicking a few icons the job was done.

The lab boss was sitting there so I thought I'd go out of my way to tell him the job was done.  I confidently said, "Hey, Mike, I fixed the ABG that was non-resulted."

"So how did that error get made?" he said. 

"It was just me being incompetent," I said in my normal fun tone.  As he spoke this I started wishing I hadn't said anything.  I could see horns growing on either side of his head -- red horns.  His hand moved quickly from the keyboard to the pitchfork -- also red.  Steam started billowing from the tops of the horns.

"You know that's a serious issue that needs to be dealt with," he whined.  "You really are incompetent if you're making errors like that.  That's two days a doctor didn't have those results.  That's unacceptable!  What are you going to do to make sure something like this doesn't happen again."

One mistake doesn't constitute a crisis!  I wanted to say.  Yet common sense took over my thoughts and what came out of my mouth instead was:  "You have a good day too."  I turned and walked away."

The truth was the doctor was handed the results by me, yet I didn't want to humor him with that information.  The fact the ABG wasn't resulted only meant it wasn't in the computer. 

This brings us to RT Cave rule #49:
RT Cave Rule #49:  One mistake does not constitute a crisis.  One mistake is a normal human error, and several mistakes may be considered a crisis that needs to be dealt with.
I knew from personal experience that dealing with a hot head during a hot situation never works.  A better solution is what I did next.  I went upstairs and went straight to my bosses office, handed him the receipt of the correction and said, "I told Mike I fixed this and he was sort of a hot-headed jerk about it."

I had to do that because that prevents Mike from going to my boss and getting the upper hand.  It was my way of staying on offense and staving off a worse situation.

Then I told my co-workers.  Then during lunch I was sitting at the table munching away on a carrot when Mike came into the cafeteria.  "Hey, there he is!  There's the hot-headed head of lab.  There's the guy who called me incompetent.  Should I wave!"

A good laugh ensued.  Yet more important, I had gained the sympathy of my fellow co-workers.  If Mike did anything to further this incident, I had the support and sympathy of my boss and co-workers.

I suppose the moral here is that hotheads never win.  So We'll make that RT Cave Rule #49:
RT Cave Rule #50:  Hotheads never win.  Getting hot says more about your incompetence in dealing with stressful situations and resolves nothing.  It merely results in you looking like the bumbling moron you are.
Likewise this also brings us to RT cave Rule #51:
RT Cave Rule #51:  When dealing with a hothead, it's best to shut your mouth and walk away.

1 comment:

Daisy said...

This is a funny post. You handled it well. I like the tips too. :D