Whenever you get a disproportionate angry response from someone, there is usually something else deeper going on. People don’t normally go from 0-60 emotionally in a noticeably brief time span unless they are already vulnerable and/or irritable to begin with. Moreover, although you may be the target of their invective, they may be trying to […]
Anger is a part of life. Everybody gets angry sometimes. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t access all of your emotions occasionally. However, I highly encourage you to pay attention to your dominant emotions. If you start the day in a bad mood and it only goes downhill from there, then what did you expect to happen. If you are too easily negatively triggered by the actions of others, then why should you surprised when people disappoint, annoy or avoid you. More often than not, we create the conditions under which we operate. Personal energy is infectious. Everyone we interact with is only feeding off the energy we put out. Just experiment with frowning all day and smiling the next. You will see a big difference. How are you showing up every day? What impact are you having on the people around you?
In my line of work you know you have tapped into a serious problem when you encounter disproportionate emotion. There have been many times where I have sat across from someone and literally watched them break down. I learned a long time ago to let the other individual have their moment and not try to downplay or negate their emotion. You don’t make someone feel better by making them feel embarrassed or disappointed about how they feel. All of us hit an emotional “brick wall” at times and become frustrated/upset with the rigors of life and work. We all need people we can turn to let us be our authentic selves, even when this isn’t pretty or easy to watch.
So much about life comes down to your attitude about it. I know privileged people who are regularly misanthropic and others with less economic advantages that seem to be mostly happy even though their lot in life seems comparatively difficult. Every day we wake up we get to make a choice about how we approach our life. We can see our existence as an amazing gift full of unlimited possibilities or a burden full of work, obligations and limitations. We can appreciate what we have or yearn for what’s beyond our reach. We can make a positive difference in the lives other people or focus exclusively on ourselves. We can build bridges to solidify positive relationships or forget to tend to the basic maintenance of effective human interaction.
As a boy growing up pretty much all my public role models were the strong silent types. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen were all men of few words but vigorous action. Men didn’t show their feelings; they just dealt with whatever came their way in the most expeditious fashion. Problems were meant to be solved not fretted over. Real men weren’t vulnerable. They were strong for all of those around them and kept their feelings to themselves. My dad very much lived up to this expectation. I can’t remember even one example of him telling me how he “felt” about something. He just did what he was supposed to do and that was that.
I’ve always believed that children are a gift from God or whatever higher power you choose to believe in. They are here to teach us as much as we are here to guide them. Sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror and seeing yourself being reflected back through their actions, attitudes, etc. In other cases, you gain entry into the wondrous world of their own individuality. My hope has always been that they will take the best from their mother and me and leave our flaws behind for us to grapple with on our own.
There is nothing more distasteful to employees than a boss who has no control over his/her emotions. People look to their leader to lead with confidence and resoluteness not to “suffer the slings and arrows” of their emotional ups and downs. Of course there will be adversity and disappointment – that’s part of the job (and life in general). However, what separates great leaders from everyone else is that they actually get cooler under pressure and have an unflappable nature about them when things go wrong.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as an adult is the importance of “letting go.” When life gets hard or you feel wronged or things don’t go your way it’s easy to harbor resentment and anger. The problem is that unless you are careful these emotions can well up inside you and become part of your identity. Its one thing to have a brief period of grief or bitterness it’s quite another to let it define you.
When I was a young boy my mother used to say to me when I was angry (which wasn’t very often) to count to ten before saying or doing anything. There mere fact of pausing before you act or say something out of spite is quite a useful tool. Sometimes we just want to respond or act immediately to what’s been said or done to us without thinking first. Our first instinct is to fight back or lash out. Unless you are in physical danger this is often a bad idea.
Emotions aren’t bad they just need to be appropriate to the situation and managed accordingly. In my experience, people often won’t trust or have other concerns about a leader or colleague who is devoid of emotion and seemingly stoic in all situtaions.
Leadership requires you to be at the top of your game physically, emotionally and intellectually. If you want to operate at a high level for any extended period of time you need to be mindful of this fact.
Leverage your emotional capacity to make critical points as needed – sometimes emotion IS called for…
Avoid emotional extremes, they exhaust those around you and weaken your credibility