In the 1974 multiple Oscar winning movie "Network," the character Howard Beale, a network news anchor played by Peter Finch loses his mind on live TV after learning that he will be fired. He states that he is "madder than hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" He exhorts his TV audience to think about the awful, unfair things they are tolerating in their lives and "go to your window, open it, and shout it over and over" until pretty soon, seemingly everyone in Manhattan is standing at their open windows shouting it out at the top of their voices!

I was reminded about that scene recently when a businessperson told me about some of the frustrations he was having at work and the difficulty he is having with them. When he is in one of these situations he acts like an ostrich pretending it doesn't exist or go at it like a linebacker on a NFL football team and hit it full force. Perhaps, I suggested, there are alternatives to these polar opposites, as each can have disastrous consequences to the people involved and to the company.

Putting one's head in the sand, the classic response of the ostrich, just denies the problem which, unfortunately, will not go away by itself and will probably get worse. Attacking the problem with great ferocity usually breeds anger, resentment, and may elevate the situation to the point of outright hostility (think "going postal?"). There has to be, and often is, a better way.

The better way is to just talk about the issue in a non-confrontational, but businesslike atmosphere - person-to-person using neutral, non-emotional language with a goal of clearly defining the issue and discussing how to best resolve it. When (or if) agreement is reached a method of future monitoring should be discussed to insure that resolution is permanent. If agreement can not be reached, alternatives should be discussed before emotions flare, people get disciplined (or worse) and then fling open those windows and shout until the veins in their neck explode - not a pretty sight!

Larry Galler coaches and consults with high-performance executives, professionals, and small businesses since 1993. He is the writer of the long-running (every Sunday since November 2001) business column, "Front Lines with Larry Galler" For a free coaching session, email Larry for an appointment - Sign up for his free newsletter at

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