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I have joined a software company in a QA team in Estonia. The HR told me the company has a flat hierarchy.

I found my team lead arrogant and rude. I politely asked him not to talk with me like that, because it annoys me. But later he gave me a warning message which says:

Outbursts of emotions is inadmissible.

Additionally, in his warning email, he pointed me as false promising, and deceiving.

I am wondering:

  1. Is what he said true, that outbursts of emotions are inadmissible?

  2. Given it is a flat company, how should I ask him to be polite?


Details:

We were talking about a technical solution. I said that his proposed solution is wrong. (I was talking about his solution), and he said "You are wrong". He targeted me with this sentence, and then ordered me to complete the task without any more discussion.

As far as I know, you should never say You are wrong. But, there should always be discussion about why I think the solution is good or not?

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    Why downvotes? how can i improve my question? – Salman Lashkarara Jan 7 '19 at 13:34
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    I feel this needs a bit more context; what did he do that you found arrogant and rude, what exactly did you say to him and how did you say it? – Erik Jan 7 '19 at 13:45
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    @cdkMoose, If someone is "flat out wrong", that doesn't absolve the person pointing that out from being tactful and considerate. What "exactly" to say depends on the person and the context, but it is almost always possible to do it, succinctly and thoroughly without making the other person feel awful. – teego1967 Jan 7 '19 at 16:41
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    "You are wrong" isn't polite to say. Always criticize the solution and not the person e.g. "Here are some pitfalls of that solution.". I don't think the tech lead should have just shut down communications either though. I think the both of you should have a frank conversation about how to discuss technical solutions and I would apologize first for your language. – jcmack Jan 7 '19 at 18:23
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    As far as I'm concerned, saying "your solution is wrong" means exactly the same as saying "you are wrong". You are being disingenuous to claim otherwise. I expect your colleague thought you were the one being arrogant and rude. – TonyK Jan 8 '19 at 2:11
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You believe your criticism of the team lead's solution was constructive and appropriate, and that his response was rude. He disagrees, and sees either your original criticism or your complaint about his as inappropriate.

Do not assume your assessment of the situation is correct and his is wrong, as this will lead to more conflict. And the lead will "win".

Arrange a brief sit-down with the lead and talk over the entire situation with an open mind. Start with an apology for accusing him of being rude (yes, an apology, even if you think you were right). Then move on to wanting to understand how the interaction ended up in this place, and wanting to avoid problems like this in the future. You can explain that you felt your original criticism of the solution was focused on the technical aspects only, but that his response started to feel personal. Then ask how he felt. Then wind up with "How can I express my technical opinion in the future without causing problems?".

TL;DR Take some responsibility for the problem in how you communicated. This will often lead the other person to also take some responsibility for their communication, leading to a quick reconciliation and better communication in the future.

  • I agree, that continuation of this argument, just make it worth .But, i believe, there is a difference between criticism of solution, and criticizing individuals. Although, blaming people does not solve any problem, blaming the solutions can improve them. – Salman Lashkarara Jan 7 '19 at 15:37
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    I doubt your team lead disagrees with what you just said. The problem is that although you meant to precisely follow your rule, your lead may not have received the comment in the same way. And your lead may have meant to follow the same rule and provide feedback on your solution, and you received it as personal. Your intent is not what the other person hears, and what you hear is not what the other person intends. Blame the communication, not the intent: take responsibility for not communicating perfectly, and be charitable in interpreting the other's intent. – Peter Jan 7 '19 at 15:55
  • People always assume a communication problem when an asshole is involved. Downvoting the answers as it will hurt the OP in the long/short/average run to try to de-escalate a dumbass. – BoboDarph Jan 8 '19 at 7:15
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Well aside from the fact that it's poor grammar, you could always change things up a bit

Instead of saying anything about how it makes you feel, simply tell him that his actions are not professional, and that feelings don't enter into this.

He does have a kind of a point, as you never want to lose your cool on the job, but he's playing a game of trying to get you angry, then shame you for it.

Settle this quickly between the two of you. You can say it in a number of ways.

I'm sorry, I will not be addressed in such an unprofessional tone.

or

Please keep your tone professional

or, for a bit stronger tone.

Your unprofessional tone does not create a productive environment.

You don't want to give him the wedge of basically saying you are emotional and unstable.

If he hits you with another bit of nonsense like that, reply with.

Slogans are no subsititute for professionalism.

Don't let yourself be bullied.

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    I would add that with the history involved he should start looking for jobs if he plans to answer something related to his manager being unprofessional. I'm not saying is ok to get fired because of that, just it's possible – Homerothompson Jan 7 '19 at 16:34
  • > he's playing a game of trying to get you angry, then shame you for it. AKA gaslighting – Robert Dundon Jan 7 '19 at 18:41
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    @RobertDundon No, that's just simple bullying. Gaslighting is when you try to get someone to question their own sanity. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jan 7 '19 at 18:52
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    It may be slightly poor grammar, but it is otherwise excellent English from someone to whom English is (presumably) a second language. "Judge not ..." – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 8 '19 at 7:50
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It is an inter-cultural problem I guess. Maybe your English usage is more subtle, because you may have had more training. I can assure you that "you are wrong" is, in the context of east European countries (I had many collaborators from Russia, Lithuenia, Belorussia) in the range of expected expression and not necessarily meant as an offense.

Something which I do not exactly get: you claimed that his solution is wrong, was it wrong? Since if it was not wrong, I could see how that may have offended him to also be more drastic in his response....

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Escalate it to the next manager in the chain. Don't take the warning sitting down. If you have a witness, get them to back you up.

As to whether outbursts of emotion are "inadmissable" (I don't think that is the term which should be used), that is up to your specific company policy. However informing somebody to not be rude to you is not emotional, the rudeness is.

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Your team leader used his perceived power and position to bully you into submission. Furthermore, he attacked your competence and self-worth in order to get his solution accepted and implemented. This is what the HR dept. is there for, regardless of it not being your friend. Bullying is a signal of a dysfunctional workplace and whoever hired you should be notified of this. You can not be expected to perform your job when your team leader is an arrogant bully that uses fear and insults to get his ideas accepted.

You are way past polite here friend, you need to go into CYA mode, because your team lead has already started to erode at your future in that company. If you care about it (your future, not the company), let whoever cares about the well-being of that company know how this person's aggression impacts negatively on your productivity and feeling of self-worth.

If they decide to do something about it, maybe it's worth giving them another chance at showing you they are not dysfunctional and can deal with a problem employee. If not, start thinking about getting assigned to another team or find another company that doesn't tolerate workspace bullying.

There are a lot of answers/comments here that leverage your perceived lack of communication skills to find an excuse for your team lead's behaviour. They are all wrong, there's no excuse for forcing your point of view on a peer through fear and emotional manipulation.

It doesn't fall onto your leader to decide what is or is not admissible at the workplace, that's what the HR dept. and internal regulations are for. He's only there to enforce those rules and work practices set in place by the HR dept., not his own feelings or ideals. If he oversteps his bounds, it's your responsibility to notify those concerned of his mistakes so that he doesn't repeat them.

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Given what you have said in the OP and comments, this person sounds like he is trying to be a bully.

The thing I would want to respond to this with, against all good judgement, would be:

Brilliant advice, but considering your personal attacks on me earlier, I hope you don't mind if I return to sender.

What you should do in reality is loop in your manager. As per his own advice, personal attacks should never be tolerated.

  • Can you understand why someone (not me) downvoted you? I would expect to see a few more downvotes, with this sort of bad advice. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 8 '19 at 7:53
  • @Mawg I would guess it is because they didn't read the whole post and thought I was actually advocating what was in the block text (hint: I wasn't) – 520 says Reinstate Monica Jan 8 '19 at 9:13
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    In light of which, I have upvoted your answer :-) – Mawg says reinstate Monica Jan 8 '19 at 10:01

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