1. Respond to a colleague’s emotionsWhen a staff member is emotional, let them vent. Take care to listen. – Avoid the temptation of jumping in to offer a solution, or making a judgement. Allow them to purge their pent-up feelings and grievances – you are embarking on a journey of discovery together, you must remain open, calm and ready to receive the other person’s grievances. The more you understand what makes a team member tick, the greater your ability to help them uncover the best version of themselves.
2. Affirm their emotionsYou don’t have to agree with their points, but take care to empathise with how they are feeling.
– “For example, saying, ‘I can see this has brought up great anger for you, it’s a difficult situation, but we can seek to resolve it when you’re feeling calmer,’ will help pacify the situation by removing the hyper-emotional aspect from the conversation.
3. Get into the habit of using their name, several times, in each meetingBy using a name, we affirm the person’s individuality and importance. When someone is angry they’re showing you they feel their’s needs are simply not being met. They may be thinking they’re not valued in the company and may feel that their feelings don’t matter.
“It’s worth noting, however, that generalisations do not have the same positive impact on the human brain, nor does it serve to change their behaviour or attitude, for example, the phrase, ‘you were great in the meeting last week’, may elicit a smile, but it won’t be enough to produce a shift in the way they are feeling.”However, when they believe you are both working towards the same goal and you are acknowledging their abilities, feelings, and efforts, you can expect their demeanour to change. The vast majority of people need to feel their contribution is not only noticed – but also valued.
“Be specific in your acknowledgments and validation of the person,– ‘Barbara, your work on the project was terrific, thank you.'”
4. Determine the perceived threatEmotions are always driven by an underlying sense of not feeling acknowledged, validated, or respected. Ask yourself, might they be feeling threatened by loss of approval or control?
5. If emotions get out of control, gently but firmly, let them know that you take their problem seriouslyCalmly and assertively let them know how they’re communicating their message is not acceptable. – Always insist on courtesy.
6. Work towards a solution togetherOnce they’ve been heard, resist going over old territory, and instead, continue to move forward in a positive manner. Michelle Zelli brings two decades of experience covering a range of industries including media, engineering, medical and recruitment. For the past 15+ years, Michelle has become known for offering unique and powerful coaching to successful people who want more from life and themselves.
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