I've had experience with two co-founders (from two different startups) name John and Adam. Both of them 'rage quit' the company when I did not agree with them.

  • John got so upset with me (the founder) when I did not vote for him in an issue with regards to office selection. I sided with another board member.

  • Adam got so upset with me when I told him that he is not managing the company expenses properly. I was the CEO of the startup.

I seem to have a problem with people getting upset with me. However, most people see me as a nice guy, who agrees all the time and says nice things.

Or perhaps maybe this only happens in startups? Back when I was working in a large corporation, disagreements happen all the time, and it was normal.

So my question:

Do you guys have a somewhat similar experience?

Is it normal for people to take things personally when rebuked/disagreed upon in a startup environment?

  • 2
    I have worked in several large corporations... disagreeing and correcting each other is normal there. Sep 3, 2020 at 13:36
  • This : "I seem to have a problem with people getting upset with me"
    – Mawg
    Sep 5, 2020 at 9:30

3 Answers 3


I think there is a few relevant things which distinguish a startup from a large (established) company in this regard. First, at a large company, the employees are much less passionate[*] about the place - they know that the company was around before they joined, and they know that the company will be there after they have moved on, and that the company is much larger than any one individual. Therefore, they are much more likely to "go with the flow", especially if someone else feels pretty strongly on an issue.

At a small startup, the founders/employees all feel that they make up a big chunk of the firm, that the firm will live or die because of their actions, and this environment both attracts folks which want to be passionate about their workplace, and causes an increase in the passion of the employees already there.

On the other hand, in my experience, a lot of small companies/startups are populated with people who don't have the necessary personal and political skills to succeed at a big company, folks whose advance up the corporate ladder has halted, and know that if they want to achieve big success they'll need to strike out on their own. In the startups I've been a part of, I've met some people which seemed to be really wanting in their ability to compromise, or to react proportionally, or pick their battles. This can create an environment in which every disagreement becomes a fight.

[*] Using passionate to mean "capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling", rather than "enthusiastic".

  • One big reason why I quit working for startups. Far too much "baggage." Sep 3, 2020 at 15:53
  • 2
    Why the down vote? Always looking to improve my answers and so like to know the reason for the vote. Sep 3, 2020 at 17:39
  • Best answer so far. Thanks! Sep 4, 2020 at 2:03

It seems to be me that your startups are being formed by young adults without a lot of real business experiences. If the reasons for quitting is over office arrangement or how they are performing their job to me is indicative of the above. It would not be the norm for older mature people. It would not be the norm for startups. This may be the "norm" for the type of people you are selecting or joining with for these startups.

  • The other potential reason is commitment, experienced committed professionals would not do this. But people treating it like a hobby would.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 3, 2020 at 23:57
  • 1
    Thanks for the reply, but Adam was 50 years old. Sep 4, 2020 at 2:02

It's perfectly normal for people to be upset when decisions do not go their way or are given critical feedback, regardless of environment. Their reaction is due to some combination of:

  • Their own personal maturity and ability to deal with disappointment/criticism
  • The manner in which you conveyed those decisions/feedback

You can't control how other people react to the decisions and feedback you make, but you can significantly improve your chances of a good outcome by practicing the second point. This is a good learning experience you should take advantage of.

I seem to have a problem with people getting upset with me. However, most people see me as a nice guy, who agrees all the time and says nice things.

You can't agree with everyone all the time, that's clearly impossible. This suggests to me that you have an opportunity to learn how to deliver critical feedback and convey difficult decisions to others in a way that shows them you've heard them and care about their input. Shift your focus on how to grow as a professional. Books like Radical Candor* by Kim Scott are good resources that can help you understand why your feedback is upsetting others and how to improve.

*I am not affiliated in any way with Kim Scott, her publishers, or the Radical Candor company. I personally recommend it as a helpful resource.

  • Thanks, good advice. Though out of curiosity, why the disclaimer at the bottom? Sep 4, 2020 at 2:00

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