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Arguments Meetings Self-Insight Career Planning Nastiness Satisfaction Conflict Disciplining Anger

After a very upsetting meeting with my boss, I walked out of his office and muttered an expletive about him that no one was supposed to hear. He heard it, wrote me up, and warned me that if I don't change my ways, I'm out. I don't think it was fair to be punished for something he was not supposed to hear. What do you think?

A. Whether you muttered or uttered a nasty comment about your boss makes no difference. The fact is that an audible expletive came from your mouth and landed in his ears, and the rest is history. There is no way for your boss to discern what he is and is not supposed to hear from you. That is your responsibility. If you say it and he hears it, you own it.

Have you considered the possibility that, on a deeper level, you may have unconsciously wanted him to hear your picturesque comment? You were angry and frustrated, and this was a way to lash back at him. It is even possible that you were so upset that you wanted him to fire you.

Your next step is actually to take a step back and look at the extent to which you are satisfied with your overall work situation. When a person becomes this upset at work, there typically is more than a meeting involved. Your behavior may be a sign of significant dissatisfaction, and perhaps you should think about whether this is the right job, the right company, and even the right career path for you.

In the meantime, you should talk things over with your boss, apologize for the comment, and try to put the relationship back on speaking terms.

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