05 Apr 2012

Dummy spits in the workplace

We have all seen tennis player John McEnroe spit the dummy. At the peak of his career he would yell, name call and throw spectacular tantrums while performing his job. Displays like this are endlessly entertaining, but not really beneficial to anybody. Thankfully for most of us, our workplaces are not nearly as public and our emotions not nearly as intense. But because almost a third of your life is spent at work, it’s no surprise that dealing with high levels of emotion is something all of us will have to face in the workplace at some point. Maybe it’s a manager having a bad day, a frustrated coworker, an unreasonable customer, or maybe you yourself are struggling to handle the stress. But what can we do in these situations? How much do you know about why dummy spits occur, and how you can deal with them?

 What types of ‘dummy spits’ occur

We all have our own ways of coping in stressful situations. Similarly, we all have our own individual ways of losing it. Some people will cry, some will yell and scream, some will say terrible things. In some cases, a little bit of a display of emotion is a good thing. Researchers at the University of East Anglia in the U.K found that swearing, at least, actually helps coworkers to build relationships with each other as a common form of expression. It’s when this gets out of hand that problems occur and we need ways of dealing with it.

 Why They Occur

There are obviously a wide variety of reasons that people lose their cool in the workplace. But as employees and employers, we need to be aware of the reasons that we can help change or control. Some of these reasons include:

  • Not coping with assigned roles
  • Feeling overwhelmed when trying to learn new skills
  • Unusual periods of stress or pressure
  • Heated verbal confrontations
  • Receiving critical or harsh feedback
  • Dismissal

Identification of the key reasons the dummy spit has occurred is key to fixing the issue long-term.

 How do you fix the situation?

At the time of the emotional outburst, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at out of control. We all have our own ways of dealing with these types of situations, but in our experience, the best bet is to stay as calm as possible. By giving the dummy spitter space and time, things have a way of settling down and becoming clearer. We also find that by discussing the circumstances that lead to the outburst at some point in the future, most issues can be resolved.

Have you ever had to deal with a dummy spit in your workplace?

How do you handle these situations?