In college I read the book Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury. In its fantastic simplicity, there are so many solid pieces of advice within these pages, it’s hard to pick just one to focus on today. For now, I’ll start with one of my favorites: Don’t react to emotional outbursts.
When we’re trying so hard to do our best, we can easily get caught in the moment and let our emotions take over. As Fisher and Ury articulate so well, when this happens, we tend to lose control, and in turn, lose some face. Our professionalism is truly at risk when we overreact or come to a discussion and literally lose our cool.
Strong leaders bring a sense of calm to a discussion, and can navigate through the toughest moments by staying even-keeled and open-minded. It’s a true test of strength to see if you can keep your emotions in check when the words and the feelings in the room heat up.
Why is it so easy to get so hot? Well, I like to think of it as we’re all coming to the discussion with the best of intentions. Our emotions stem from our overall goal to do our best, and when we feel we’re failing in that realm or we find our passions being challenged, it’s hard to stay cool.
I’ve said this before, but I think it’s worth revisiting: I used to react – hard. It took a long time for me to really get to a point where I learned that sharing our opinions is valuable, but battling it out is not. You don’t have to be right or win to make progress. There’s no room for the figurative boxing gloves in these heated moments. What we need to make room for is open dialogue, learning from each other, and making compromises that help us navigate to a middle ground that achieves a common goal. It sounds so easy, but it really does take practice. You’ll probably make some mistakes as you work through some of the tougher moments in life, but that is just one of the many ways we learn and grow.
If you’re willing to compromise along the way, you’ll get there easily. The trick is to compromise on your objectives, not your values. Make solid decisions, be convicted, and do the right thing. If you react, it triggers an emotional response and invites conflict, not productive compromise. Does compromising mean you’re a pushover? No way. It means you’re a business professional eager to make a group decision that everyone can feel good about, even if the objectives need to shift slightly in the process.
So, the next time the temperature heats up, take a beat and get your emotions in check. Maintain your professionalism, and remember that everyone’s heart is in a good place. If you see emotions rising, don’t react with your own heated remarks. Keep your cool and remember to always contribute positively to see productivity rise.