Management Success Tip #90: Engage Positively with Your Employees’ Emotional Upset–It’s Easier than You Think!

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One way or another, that emotional upset, if not addressed appropriately, will either fester and get worse, or explode into something worse.

This you can’t afford. When one of your employees is having an emotional meltdown, start by listening.

Practicing business psychiatrist and CEO advisor Mark Goulston suggests a number of ways to listen effectively, the first of which is to ask your employee:

What are you most frustrated about? This is a good question because when you ask them about their feelings, it often sounds condescending. And if you start out focusing on their anger, it sounds as if you are coldly telling them to get a hold on themselves, which may work, but more often will just cause the pressure inside them to build up even more. However, asking them about their frustration is less judgmental and can have the same effect as sticking a scalpel into their abcess. Let them vent their feelings and when they finish, pick any of their words that had a lot of emotion attached. These can be words such as ‘Never,’ ‘Screwed up,’ or any other words spoken with high inflection. Then reply with, ‘Say more about “never’ (or ‘screwed up,’ etc.) That will help them drain even more.”

OK, so the image of draining an abcess isn’t pleasant, but it’s very accurate when it comes to emotional upsets. That emotion needs to be expressed before your employee can use their rational mind.

Once your employee feels that their emotion has been genuinely heard, it’s much easier for you to lead them gently to the solution phase, where you figure out together what’s the best next step.


Management Success Tip #44: Be a Hero to Your Employees: Table Your Reactive Emotions!

There are moments when your employees drive you absolutely buggy. OK, more than moments . . . whole weeks at a time, some months. And like any other normally constituted human being, you want to be your “authentic self.”

In other words, you want the freedom to snap at them when they’ve irritated you, express your frustration, even your anger with at the very least increased volume if not strong words and emphatic body language. Sometimes you may sigh with exasperated disappointment, or feel driven to utter desperation.

And yet. . .if you are to be an effective leader, be that of your two-person shop, your department, your team, or your company, you cannot simply let your emotions take over. Yours must always be the cooler head, the one who sets aside emotional reaction in the interests of rational problem-solving.

There’s a reason the “strong silent type” became a prototypical hero. It’s because such a hero represents the ability to withstand internal emotional storms in order to deal most effectively with the problem at hand.

People rely on you. Justify their doing so by tabling your emotions for when you can allow them free rein: in your journal, in your conversations-with-self in the privacy of your bedroom or sharings with a trusted friend or mate. Show your employees and team members your leadership mettle by going directly to what’s important to your business; problem-solving.