Home > Best Practices, Career > How to respond when you’ve made someone upset or angry

How to respond when you’ve made someone upset or angry

I’m getting back into my leadership and mentoring mindset now that I’m going to be leading a team again. It’s an exciting thing to move from being an individual contributor to a manager– and one that I’ve missed since the dissolving of the iSEM team back in 2009. I’ve gotten back into reading management and leadership blogs and came across the article What to Do When You’ve Made Someone Angry on the Harvard Business Review.  It’s a great reminder for how to handle and deal with difficult situations where someone has gotten upset or angry and pertains to both your professional and personal life.

The article contains two examples that make it easy to relate and understand who to apply the easy principals to defuse the situation: an individual is 30 minutes late for a dinner date and a angry spiral of emails that stem from a work meeting gone bad. Both of these are use cases that apply to real life and that almost everyone has experienced in their personal and professional life.
A few highlights and quick reminders: a lot of strife comes from misunderstandings of intention vs. consequences.  While we mind not intend to upset someone our actions can, and instead of focusing on the intention we should focus on the consequences of our actions.

As it turns out, it’s not the thought that counts or even the action that counts. That’s because the other person doesn’t experience your thought or your action. They experience the consequences of your action.

So what do you do when you’ve angered someone?
Simple. So simple, that we over look it most of the time because we’re trying to get the other party to agree to our intentions, instead of acknowledging the consequences of our actions.

When you’ve done something that upsets someone — no matter who’s right — always start the conversation by acknowledging how your actions impacted the other person.

You can put it into three simple steps to create your response to the situation. Don’t attempt to justify. Apologize, accept responsibility, and attempt to change.

1. Regret
2. Responsibility
3. Resolution

(1) I’m sorry because (2) [action you are responsible for & consequence of action]. (3) How can I make it better?

Next time you see yourself going in the downward spiral of anger. Try to respond with the simple 1.2.3. answer and see if your need to justify your actions dissipates.

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