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It’s The Dog Pound, Where We Love Yelling

The Oasis Reporters

September 9, 2023


By Justin Chukwumah

“Who let the dogs out?
Who, who, who, who, who?”
-“Who Let the Dogs Out” — Song by Baha Men

I remember early in my career and I was unfortunate to be in a feedback session. We had teams working on various initiatives and they had daily reviews of what had been completed. The employees working on these pet projects were entry-level employees who had also just joined the firm and they had to receive feedback from members of mid and senior management.

Most of the senior folks were literally screaming like they were having marriage-ending fights with their spouse (You know how the neighbours shout when they are having marital issues?
Yeah, just like that.)

I felt like I had made a grave mistake coming into the corporate world and probably should have continued dealing with the irregular graphics design gigs which felt more like a hobby than paid employment.

It felt even more depressing as most of the feedback given during the session was more of “You should have known…That’s not how it’s done.”

“For Christ’s sake,” I thought, “These guys have barely spent a month in the firm and most of them have never worked with this level of complexity in a large corporation.”

To date, I can still hear the voices of the screaming corporate spouses, even though it’s been a long time.

To be honest, it almost felt as if I were in a dog pound (it’s a place where lost or surrendered dogs are kept). You can give feedback in a humane and non-lower-animal-like way and still get the message across, irrespective of the stakes at hand.

I have seen people do it before and still do it. At some point, I switched industries, and the folks in the new sector were generally more cultured and calm, or at least they pretended to be (too calm for my liking sometimes, but that is not the point of this piece).

I began to understand why certain people I had worked with in the past who came from that side of the corporate fence usually had their act together irrespective of the odds.

To be honest, when I worked with these folks in the past I used to wonder how they didn’t lose their sh*t.

But seeing the structures put in place to ensure people are always on their best behaviour, it now makes total sense.

I remember a senior colleague who had complained bitterly after making the reverse of my career switch asking “Why can’t everyone just behave themselves, after all, we all went to the same schools?”

I now see that in the end, it all depends on what Big Daddy Corporate (BDC) chooses to tolerate. I mean, if BDC chooses to bump “Worst Behaviour” by Drake on corporate behaviour all year long, then it makes total sense that Rottweilers, Pit Bulls and Dobermans will be groomed and enabled in their firms.

After all, there are several studies that show time and time again that empathy drops as people go higher up the corporate ladder, but then again, it is not the point of this piece.

To an extent, I believe there are also cultural roots for pointless yelling and name-calling, from homes with parents who are mini-Alphas and Omegas (more like flawed in character) to the general behaviour of people constantly yelling and screaming on the streets and everywhere you go.

It is almost as if a lot of people have megaphones stitched to their mouths with which they spew acid-like statements on default.

I think it is quite shameful that we glorify certain types of insults which we say sound interesting in our mother tongues.

Maybe to an extent, it is a reflection of the behavioural conditioning which stems from previous generations with no regard for or training in being civil (no offence). But then, I will not dig further into this rabbit role.

I have a friend, let’s call him Rick Ross (because of his beard). Rick Ross mentioned he was told [almost] weekly by his higher-ups that he had to “go hard” on his reporting officers for no meaningful reason.

I mean, how awful can you become when you get to the point where you force others to shout at their subordinates?

I remember when I joined Clowntown and worked with Ed. After months of having little to no support from Ed, I reached out to a different manager in another team (let’s call him Simba) who offered some useful tips which were helpful.

However, he began to tell me the importance of a project manager being militant and aggressive, as it was the only way to get sh*t done as a PM.

My brain, as usual, shut down (playing the shutdown sound of Microsoft Windows 7) while he was speaking.

I thanked him for his time and left, clinging only to the useful part of the conversation.

Whenever I see a noisy neighbour, I always tell myself, “The person you are addressing isn’t deaf, why are you shouting?

And even if they were deaf, the question remains the same: why are you shouting?”

They can hear you if you haven’t noticed. You might say, “Well Justin, have people ever annoyed you? Have you met some really annoying people?”
The simple answer is yes, I have; just like every other person. Have I been pushed to scream?

Yes, I have.
But I understand that the organisation isn’t a dog pound (arguable, but that’s not the point), so there’s no point in having it as the default mode.

Also, the type of yelling that I am speaking about is that which is personal and completely unacceptable.

The type that involves name-calling and outright insults. Even Simba was very efficient and he was equally supportive (in his own way)of his reporting officers, even though he threw regular bouts of aggression here and there that made you have to say, we should probably recommend this dude for therapy.

Looking back now, I would have picked Simba over Ed if I had the opportunity to select a boss because of his ability to help you push when you needed him and Ed’sdocile and slug-like demeanour whenever you encountered blockers above your pay grade. Honestly, whenever I remember Ed, I remember Flash Slothmore (the sloth from Zootopia).

The story is that Steve Jobs was a wailer too. If you choose to stick to yelling, my question to you is simple, “Are you building an iPhone?”
Please think very carefully before you provide an answer.

I keep pointing out the fact that I’ve worked with people who were calm, gentle, firm, and assertive, and they still got a lot of stuff done.

They never had to raise their voice or pressure me; I believe that’s the job of the “almighty workload”. I also understand that this is easier for leaders when they lead self-driven people. Remember Chihuahua in my former piece?

When I felt I had dealt with enough garbage at the firm, I sent in my resignation without a replacement job (Yeah, I pulled the stunt after a lot of thinking and considerations.) They were gracious enough to host a send-forth for me and a couple of guys who were also resigning at the same time.

At the meet-up, he yelled “The man with the bedroom voice!” I responded excitedly, “Did I deliver with the bedroom voice?” He repeated the statement, and I asked the same question with less excitement and more seriousness.

“Yes, you did,”he responded.
I thought to myself, “I guess I have been able to prove my hypothesis.” You can maintain your cool even in a hostile environment and still get the job done.

Alternatively, you might ask, “Why can’t people behave all the time?”
Repeat those words to yourselves. When you think of humans, what comes to mind at first thought? Good thoughts or bad thoughts?


Justin Chukwumah is a corporate wanderer and reluctant project manager who’s just trying to find meaning in work and only writes about what he experiences and struggles with.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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