Positive Quote: “He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Many, many years back I had someone tell me that whoever lost their temper or raised their voice first in a meeting lost. As in their words were no longer going to be heard and whether they had valid things to contribute to the conversation or not, it would no longer be heard based on the delivery method of a raised voice.
I took that to heart. Prior to that conversation I will admit I had a pretty quick temper. This temper is diminishing and if I look back at the past 8-10 years, I know I have not let it out to feed or grow.
The ability to put not only our thoughts but our opinions on ice when in conversations and yes in disagreements can significantly improve the outcome.
This quote reminds me of a couple of specific interactions during the course of my career.
The first one is where I was having a performance review session with an employee. Nothing I said was a surprise, as we had had many discussions about the topic and had specific milestones in place for him to accomplish to demonstrate success (this was back in the day before it became known as a performance improvement plan). While we were talking, at a table, in a conference room…he became agitated and stood, started pacing, yelling, and his body movements were more physical. What did I do? I waited a few sentences to see if he could self-modulate. When I knew he wouldn’t and that he was lost in his own mind not hearing what I was saying, I stood, which caught his attention, and told him that I was going to step outside to give him time to gather his thoughts and when he was ready for us to talk without the loud voices that I would come back in and we would finish our conversation. It took him about 15 minutes, then we finished. In the end we had a clearly understood conversation that would not have been possible if I had not stepped away.
My second example is one that I experienced many a time. At the time I was managing more technical focused people and each time a release went out that ‘broke’ something the frustration mounted as the impact to the end user and customers increased. I’ve lost count of the times I interrupted someone to say, yes this is not a good thing, yes, more thorough testing and better use cases would have been helpful…however, now we need to focus on the solution and fixing rather than chasing the blame. First fix, then evaluate and make it better for the next release to prevent the issues. While I was not happy about the issue myself, if I had expressed this the focus may not have been as quick to solution, which would have extended the impact.
Ultimately, I am a believer that one cannot ‘shoot’ the messenger and one cannot feed into the flames and downward spiral of a heated, yelling situation.
Some of the tactics I use are:
- More often than not, it is not personal. I remind myself of this.
- Things happen and I remind myself it is how I choose to react that will define how we move forward
- I remind myself that no one comes to work purposefully meaning to cause things to happen or cause more work to others
- I remind myself that no one is dying, injured, or severely hurt (thankfully in my line of business casualty is rare to non-existent).
- Before I speak, I take a deep breath to center my thoughts
- I consciously choose to ask clarifying questions before I jump to assumptions
What are some tactics you have?
What do you think of this quote?
Have a great day,