Last reviewed 9 August 2017

Anger management in your small business — the next in our occasional series of blogs about Georgia Gainsborough — “a very successful businesswoman”, by Jude Tavanyar.

Ping! Email from colleague Evie Wyman, to our MD Selina Lightwater, into which I, Georgia Gainsborough, Evie’s friend and colleague, am duly copied.

“Dear Selina — OK, I know I’ve threatened resignation before and not done it. Like that time when Kevin set fire to his trousers at the conference and lost us several hundred HR customers ready to buy our training, or when he wasted £30,000 on those APPALLING ELEPHANT JEGGINGS with the little TAIL on the back … Or when he … Anyway — this time, it’s real. I am going. Yes. I mean — how could you have NOT TOLD US!!!! I trusted you. And you let that ghastly man RUIN OUR DREAM. Well. I’m BEYOND UPSET. I can’t forgive you, and I will never forget how you LIED TO US. And the awful thing is … you probably DON’T CARE, do you? (etc, etc)”.

Anger management tip number one: When resigning by email to your boss in less than favourable circumstances, keep it short, crisply-worded and as emotionless as possible.

As resignation letters go, it definitely errs on the side of the emotionally overblown rant, but I can’t help seeing Evie’s point of view. (Although as the email goes on for a further 10 paragraphs, all of them laden with rambling accusations in capital letters, and so many exclamation marks that I feel my eyes watering, and my Poundland reading glasses misting up, it actually gets quite difficult to see anything much at all by the end of it.)

However, there is no doubt MD Selina has been disastrously economical with the truth. Ever since the dreadful Kevin, “Elephant Power” Sales Director with the social skills of a psychopathic, testosterone-charged teenager on amphetamines, bagged himself a role in our company unchallenged by our boss and proceeded to ruin any chance we had of business success, the normally forceful and charismatic Selina has been strangely silent on his bull-in-a-china-shop antics.

There is no handbook for coping with a situation where your boss announces at your AGM that she is in fact the mother of your eccentric and — let’s say it, useless — Sales Director, who turns out to have a previous criminal record as a fraudster and embezzler of corporate funds as well as having a dodgy taste in merchandising which has consequently resulted in thousands of pounds of corporate finances being squandered on outsize “elephant-leg” jeggings in a deeply unpleasant grey fabric with extra wrinkles sewn in at the knee — and other hideously ill-considered items of clothing. The fact that boss Selina offered no explanation for keeping quiet about being ex-con Kevin’s mum doesn’t help. Neither has there been any attempt to apologise for his wayward behaviour. But then, when I think about it, we actually know next to nothing about our MD despite a whole year of working together as training company “Elephant Power” — and explanations do not seem to form part of her repertoire.

Anger management tip two: If you have bad news to give to a trusted colleague, try to convey it in person. Depending on the situation, a face-to-face conversation is often preferable to an email, which can seem impersonal and insensitive, especially if your colleague is also your friend.

Ping! Email from Kevin.

“Kevin Lightwater is on annual leave in the South of France. Or somewhere like it with plenty of beer and sunshine. Anyway, he’s not about. So contact my colleagues Evie and Georgia instead, but frankly I doubt they’ll be able to help you much, ha ha. By the way, you’ll see on our website that all Elephant Power clothing has been reduced by 90% in our summer sale, so fill your boots! Goodbye.”

Anger management tip number three: No matter how furious and let-down you may be feeling, maintain professionalism at all times. Your customers are not interested in your personal life, only in your products. Above all, never comment on your colleagues’ competence (or lack thereof) to external parties. Particularly, not in an automatic response service email.

By now, the sharp stab of disappointment and loss I experienced at Evie’s leaving, and not even bothering to tell me in person (to descend into ranting myself, I was only copied onto the email, for heaven’s sake!!!) is replaced by burning rage. Kevin appears to have done a runner, possibly taking the last of our corporate funding with him, and yet again, Selina is nowhere to be found.

Ping! Email from “Chubby Chasing”, a dating agency for those who, it appears from their corporate tagline, “favour the fuller figure” and a “hands-on approach” when it comes to love. They’re running a reward party for their most loyal customers, and our stretch-waisted elephant-leg jeggings are, it seems, perfect for the “unapologetically exuberant waistline”. I read the order three times before it sinks in. They are ordering 10,000 jeggings! One for every customer who’s successfully stayed single over three years.

It’s the first proper order we’ve ever received. And, as I sit staring at the sales page on our website, I notice another 10 emails hitting the company inbox in swift succession, some of them from UK, but also US, Canada, even China! All of them desperate for our elephant leg jeggings. What the … ? Why … ?

Ping! What’s App from Selina. I consult my watch. Must have nodded off, perhaps out of sheer shock. It is 2am.

“Turn your TV on, if you’re awake. Kevin is on “Late Night Live!”

I tune in and see Kevin chatting to Annette Fasttrap, celebrated Late Night Live host, about his interesting life. He is wearing the elephant jeggings, and discusses how the dedication of his beloved mother Selina kept him alive when, as a dodgy corporate dealer, he was “on a freefall into drug-ridden delusion and despair”. He also mentions how since he met “wonderful, accommodating” colleagues Evie and Georgia and started his sales role in “Elephant Power”, his whole world changed and he found happiness, proper happiness, again. Which is what prompted him to write his new book “Elephants Never Forget”, all about redemption and reconnecting with your deepest values. He dabs at his eyes with one of our Elephant Power headscarves, the logo cunningly turned, I notice, towards the camera.

I am up all night, processing the orders Kevin’s interview generates and by 9am the next day we are completely out of stock. There are also some orders for Kevin’s rather worrying-sounding book, which apparently is “not quite finished yet” and covers the entire period of his employment with us. The bottom line is: I’ve no idea how any of this happened — but our finances have turned around overnight.

Ping! Sheepish, email from Evie, a lot more succinct this time.

“OK. I may have been a bit hasty. And — er — rude. Look — sorry. Um. Can I retract my resignation?”

Anger management tip number four: When someone irritates you through their infuriating behaviour, try to look below the surface. Perhaps there is more to them than you realise.

Ping! Email from Selina. With a little smiley emoticon and a raised eyebrow.

Anger management tip number five: Forgiveness is a great way to let go of stress.

“What resignation? We’ve got work to do. See you on Monday.”