Jane, accounts payable supervisor for a large building company in southern Oregon, told Session 5B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In 1982 I was living in Seattle and worked as an accountant for a man named Mr. Jolly. He owned a firm that was the manufacturer's representative for companies that manufactured and sold oceanographic equipment all over the world. He was a very intense man and he could actually talk on two or three phone lines at the same time. He was also a diabetic and was trying to control his insulin through diet. Unfortunately for all of us sometimes, he would get so busy that he would forget to eat. When this happened, it would make him have extreme mood swings and he would often fly off the handle for no apparent reason. When this happened his name, Mr. Jolly, sure didn't fit.
One afternoon as I was busily working at my desk, Mr. Jolly came up to my desk and with a sweep of his hand knocked all six of my inboxes to the floor. Glaring at me, he yelled, 'You really don't know what you're doing, do you?' I calmly picked up my purse, looked at him and said, 'I know exactly what I am doing, and that is quitting!' I walked out of the office, got in my car, and left.
The next week he called every day, sent flowers, and pleaded with me to come back to work for him. He promised never to yell or lose his temper in front of me again. After a week I agreed to go back to work for him. From that day on, whenever he
started to lose his temper, he would stop, grab my cheeks, and say, 'You're just too cute to get mad at!' He never lost his temper in my presence again. I enjoyed working for him for another couple of years.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that I don't have to and never should put up with people who don't treat me with respect. There is no excuse for unacceptable behavior. The action I call you to take is to be true to yourself and your right to be treated with respect. Do not accept or project unacceptable behavior. The benefit you will gain is you will respect yourself and earn the respect of others, and you won't need to hold any resentment inside."
What a dramatic story of the extreme acting out that some people will resort to if permitted. As I pondered this example, it seems that Mr. Jolly was engaging in selfindulgence and using his extreme blood sugar fluctuations as his excuse (any excuse will do when we need one) for being a total jerk. The give away is that after he was told in no uncertain terms, "I will not stand for this behavior," he stopped. Let's be careful not to look for excuses for our unskilled behavior. There is no excuse for unacceptable behavior.