First - Mahalo nui loa (Hawai'ian for thank you very much) for the follow. Most kind. I'm always curious as to what inspired you to click my follow button. Of course I wandered over to your posts - so glad I have!
What you highlight here (in this post) about transference of pain and suffering - spot on.
This post reminds me of a time where - as a paid-in-full contractor was given a dressing down in front of the team I was hired to lead by a gent who (at that time)was a classic case of leadership via the Peter Principle.
On the day I was called on the carpet this guy went off! As a social worker with a Masters degree I know all too well that when someone looses their control - it's about what they lack - perspective.
Short story - the tool I use is simple. Affirmation followed by what else. When someone in perceived authority is doing their best to ream me a new one — I affirm everything said to ensure I hear them correctly (as well as inspire a feeling of being heard). Once I get confirmation that I've heard them correctly I ask what else.
I keep asking what else until they get even more angry by me asking the same question.
What this person was completely unaware of is the hammer I was raising higher and higher with each round of vomiting all over me in front of my direct reports.
I finally asked, "anything else?" He glared at me and yelled no!
I then asked if he'd honor the way in which I treated him. I asked him if he felt I've treated him with respect. Once he affirmed that I did treat him with respect did he sense the hammer coming down.
In less then two minutes I shared with him that this is the one and only time I'll allow this kind of demonstration of utterly-unprofessional action to happen. I said I'm delighted he did what he did because it was a perfect example of what never, ever to do. I turned the moment into a 'learnable moment.'
With a look in my eyes that others said would burn through a mile of granite like a hot knife cutting butter I point blank said, "I heard you. Now what are YOU going to do about all the things YOU addressed."
You could hear a mouse breathe at that moment.
I suggested we close the meeting. I invited my reports to ponder what they've heard to offer suggestions on potential resolutions. I affirmed the reality that if one of the offered resolutions was for me to ask this gents superiors for his resignation (of which my contract stated I had the authority to do) - so be it.
Grace mixed with compassion - two lifetime teachers in my world.