Management on an even keel

What to do when the 'grumpy monster' is you

Last week I looked at how to deal with negative staff. This week I look at what to do when the grump monster is a little closer to home — specifically, when it’s you.

As a manager, you can sometimes start your work day positively, but find it hard to keep that upbeat momentum up, something recognised by Brian Norris. He says everyone experiences problems, but it's how we deal with them that makes us unique.

“As a leader, you do not have the luxury of diminishing your employees’ self-esteem in a moment of rage. Remind your management that rage and random acts of intimidation are not in the job description.”

He says that as a manager, your behaviour is being watched by employees and he believes that your attitude is the foundation of your employees’ sense of reality.

“If you come in to work smiling, optimistic and approachable, then it's easier to expect a positive work day. If you come to work with a scowl on your face, are resonating anger or a ‘don't talk to me until I've had my coffee’ energy, you can expect a negative work environment and have no one to blame but yourself.”

Norris also advises not to engage in a shouting contest with others.

“Answer them in a non-hostile, conversational tone. Regulate your breathing and tone. Use phrases like, ‘I see your point’, ‘I understand what you’re saying’, ‘What can I do to help resolve the problem?’and ‘It sounds like you’re upset. I’ll do whatever I can to get to the core of the problem by this afternoon’.”

Tracy Brinkmann, writing on, sums up several steps to staying positive in a negative world. To being with, “Understand that failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night; today is a brand new day, and it is yours.”

Another piece of advice is to start and end the day with positive input.

“Inspirational messages cause the brain to flood with dopamine and norepinephrine, the energising neurotransmitters; with endorphins, the endurance neurotransmitters; and with serotonin, the feel-good-about-yourself neurotransmitter. Begin and end the day by reading or listening to something positive.”

I have no idea if there’s any truth to the above, but all those natural highs sound like fun. If Brinkmann’s ideas are a tad too Pollyanna-ish for you, then you may want to read about the experience of Jack Roseman, an entrepreneur and educator from the US.

Roseman has had major heart troubles and isn’t entirely sure how long he’s got to live. This has changed his attitude to life and makes interesting reading if you’re feeling negative over what will probably be only minor problems in comparison.

“I may not be around tomorrow. I take that as a given, so it makes each day a little more special. You may not be around tomorrow, either, but I doubt you think about it much… we don't know whose number is up tomorrow, we should live as best and as much as we can so that on the day we die we have the fewest ‘should haves and could haves.’ And each person has to decide exactly what that means for them.”

Mills, a Dunedin writer, keeps her temper even with frequent chocolate doses. Email her at

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags management

Show Comments