Have you ever found yourself reacting to something and then regretting how you handled it? It can be especially frustrating when you’ve been working on changing that behavior. You find when you plan for a situation, you can be very composed. But when it hits you by surprise, you find yourself right back to reacting the way you used to. The good news is, we can change this. It takes a bit of focus and discipline, but it’s well worth the investment!
This topic came from one of our readers, Stan, who asked how to stop reacting to a couple of his direct reports. Stan shared with me that he has a team of seven sales reps in a fast-paced consumer electronics industry. Five out of the seven are great to manage. They take initiative and they always meet or beat their forecasts. Two of his direct reports seem to push his buttons and although most of the time he can compose himself, there are occasions when he’s not prepared and something just sets him off, and he ends up scolding, yelling and sometimes even swearing. He admitted that he didn’t want to react this way but he felt it almost impossible to control.
Well Stan, you’re right that it’s tough, because this kind of reaction is ingrained behavior that takes a bit longer to change. The best place to start is by looking inside to first understand why their behavior bothers you so much. What thoughts and beliefs do you have about that behavior? What assumptions might you be making? Are you taking it personally?
Then take a moment to put yourself in their shoes and empathize. This doesn’t mean sympathize and make excuses; it means to understand their view and feelings. This allows you to react in a way that they can relate to.
The next time you get frustrated, use the awareness of your emotion as an opportunity to stop, put yourself in their shoes, and choose the behavior that works best. Remember it will take time to change these gut reactions, but if you take some time to reflect on a regular basis, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you begin reacting the way you would prefer, and how quickly your people begin to change!