My wife is complaining and the children shy away from me. I don't really realise how I'm being until it's too late. What would you advise?
A: There's an embarrassing scene in a Noel Coward play that might help.
A couple given to uncontrollable rows invent a word (I can't remember what it is, but it's a silly one). Whenever a row is clearly imminent, one of them says 'Crumchocks!' The row evaporates.
Since you're so clearly aware of what's happening, agree on such a word with your wife. Whenever you adopt the worst of your call centre persona, she should simply say 'Crumchocks!' The sillier the word, the more likely it is to be effective.
Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.