Have you ever been really upset and someone said, “Calm down!” or “Get over it!”? Did that just make you want to wring their neck or, the other extreme, crawl into a hole and hide? And still, you were UPSET!
Think about a time when an employee came to you with an upset, what did you say? How did you handle it? One of the skills we teach in Unshackled Leadership Coaching is to listen with compassion. As a leader, it’s important for you to create a safe place for people to communicate their upsets to you. To do this, you must listen with compassion. This “takes the air out of the balloon” allowing the upset to dissipate.
Most upsets are irrational. Something happens to trigger ones upset mechanism and off we go getting upset. We think an event is the cause of the upset – your button gets pushed. Usually the upset is an illogical, built- in reaction to an event or circumstance, often not what you think. But, either way, you’re upset.
As a leader, when someone comes charging into your office with an upset, your first instinct may be to hide under your desk, pretend you’re on the phone or, what would be even worse, to take it personally. Instead, take a deep breath and listen with compassion - with a deep appreciation for the other person’s feelings and experience. Listen how the other person feels about what they’re saying, not what you feel about it. Avoid opinions, judging, solving or making them wrong. Listen with all the empathy and compassion you can imagine.
I like to visualize the person in a heart. Sometimes I imagine them to be my little grandchild that I love so much. I open my heart and my arms. I make her feel safe. When she calms down, we can then talk about it. That’s true with the people with whom you live and work, too. Have them feel you’re there for them and they’re being heard. Give what you’d want if you were upset.
On the other side of this, when you’re the one with the upset, be careful what comes out of your mouth. Simply say “I’m upset.”
You’re probably thinking, all of this is easier said than done. This is true. With awareness and practice it becomes easier. If you’d like some help with this, contact me at Lois@UnshackledLeadership.com or check out our Roadmap to Success program which has many great tips for leaders. http://www.unshackledleadership.com/free-success-video.