My old boss, Craig, was the CEO of a small hospital before he retired and passed the job onto me. Craig once told me a story from back in the day when he was a lab technician, and it is one I will never forget.
Craig had once forgotten to check a mechanism (I won’t bore you with the details) on a piece of equipment that he had used, and thus it malfunctioned and broke the entire machine. The machine was a very expensive piece of Siemens lab equipment, and the repair bill cost around $250,000.
The next day, Craig’s boss walked in to talk to him, and Craig was sure he was going to be fired. His boss asked him why he didn’t perform the proper check, made sure Craig understood what happened, and began walking out of the room.
Craig called after him, “Sir, am I not getting fired?”
Craig’s boss turned around and with a laugh said, “I just spent a quarter million dollars teaching you a lesson you’ll never forget. Why would I fire you now?”
I always think about that story whenever I’m dealing with a situation. I try not to make professional decisions based on emotional responses, and I try to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Yelling at people only makes them become defensive and less productive, and they may even come to resent you. Be calm and understanding, and rather than resenting you, people will look up to you.