Managing Emotions on the Job: The Best Reaction is Usually No Reaction

By Crystal Spraggins

Back in the days when I made my living as an editor, I used to go to a good number of conventions.

One afternoon, while on the phone with an author (let’s call her Jane), the conversation veered to one of these upcoming meetings.

Without warning, Jane said, “I guess Pierre [my boss at the time—not his real name], will be dragging out that ratty black jacket he always wears. God that thing is awful. I wonder where he got it? He’s the worst dresser I’ve ever met.” Then she was silent.

And I was dumbstruck.

An important work lesson

I didn’t know what to say. Should I disagree and defend my boss? (“I don’t think the jacket’s that bad, Jane. Plus, it’s not nice to gossip.”)

Or should I agree with her? (“Oh boy, you hit the nail on the head with that one, Jane! And he’s French, too? I thought good taste in clothing was de rigueur.” Tee hee.)

Either way, this was an important client relationship, I liked my boss and I didn’t want to get into it.

And then it hit me: I didn’t have to say a word.

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