what we're reading now
follow us on facebook
follow us on twitter
subscribe to our blog
find it

What We're Reading Now

Hold Your Face (And Your Tongue)

24 March 2015

Allison read How Leaders Should React When Someone Disappoints by Peter Bregman and appreciated a succinct explanation for why raising your voice, being sarcastic, rolling your eyes, smirking, looking bored, crying, etc. is never, ever the right response when you’re frustrated with someone.

Tags: allison read, leadership, mindfulness, peter bregman

Sometimes we disappoint one another. It’s one of the truths of the human condition. We very seldom have constructive conversations about those disappointments and if we do address them, it’s often with volume, a disrespectful tone, and dismissive body language. Your job as a leader is to stay calm and have appropriate body language when delivering difficult feedback. You can express your disappointment in the form of specific, descriptive, behavior-oriented feedback, but you have to do what the Allison Partners team calls, “hold your face (and your tongue).” Always. Every single time.

At this point you may be thinking, “But their performance is unacceptable. They behaved badly. They let me down. They let their team members down. They let the organization down. They let all of our stakeholders down!” Yes. I know. People make big mistakes at work (and in life). But unless you’re yelling at someone to get out of the way of oncoming traffic, you don’t ever get to raise your voice or have an attitude of disgust in your body language or facial expressions. (I know you probably don't look like this guy when you get upset, but it's often how you seem to people when you don't manage your emotions.)

It’s a tough rule, but if you want to be an effective leader, it’s a rule you need to figure out how to follow all the time. You have to learn relaxation techniques or other self-management tools to help yourself down regulate to a calmer state of mind. (This post might help.) The emotions and reactions you feel in your body are normal and part of your hardwiring; however, just because they are natural doesn’t mean you can express them in front of others. You make a choice about how to respond. Sometimes you make that choice without thinking, but it's stil your choice. And when you mess up (raise your voice, roll your eyes, cry, or do whatever it is you do), you’ll have to give a meaningful apology. (This post explains how to say I’m sorry the right way.)

I give some version of this advice every single time I teach our Effective Communication Skills and Resolving Conflict courses. In the future, I’ll also be encouraging participants to read Peter Bregman’s post, How Leaders Should React When Someone Disappoints. As always, Bregman provides some meaningful real life examples as well as practical tips for how to implement his suggestions. He reminds us we can hold people accountable, “But when people fall short of those expectations, the way leaders handle their disappointment can mean the difference between a return to high performance and a downward spiral of failure.”


Our Comment Policy:

Our blog posts are only half of the conversation. What our readers have to say is equally important to us, and we're grateful for all the comments that continue the dialog.

To ensure that the discussion here is as useful as possible to all of our readers, please be respectful of our contributors and refrain from harassing, threatening and/or vulgar language. We reserve the right to screen and remove any comments from the site. If you have a question about a comment or want to discuss our policy, please contact us. We'll talk it over.

There are no comments for this entry yet.


Leave a comment



Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter the characters you see below:

« Return to What We're Reading Now