Frustrated And Fuming: 5 Ways To Still Lead Well

“I’m just so frustrated,” his eyes had changed from fuming to weary. He shared, “I know anger isn’t working, but as my wife would say, “I didn’t yell the first 5 times.”

The situation was complex. We were both frustrated with the stagnant results, and had been collaborating on several strategies. He’s a strong leader, but I’d received feedback about his approach. His intensity was impacting his effectiveness. Even the perception of yelling is bad. But his words made me pause.

I had just yelled them in my kitchen.

Meat Drawer Meets Frustration

“I didn’t yell the first 5 times.”

  1. Honey, please don’t put the lunchmeat in the drawer with the raw meat
  2. Sweetheart I’ve labelled the drawers so you know where everything goes
  3. This is the 3rd time, please don’t put the lunch meat with the raw meat
  4. (Now slamming the meat into the right drawers) and an evil glare
  5. Why won’t you listen to me?
  6. You’re doing this on purpose to spite me. Why don’t you value our relationship enough to listen (you get the picture).

5 Ways to Lead Past Frustrated and Fuming

  1. Pause – When you’re that mad, don’t react. Walk away and consider the approach.
  2. Explain Why – Now one could argue that a grown man should understand “why” you don’t want leaky chicken on your bologna. That’s futile thinking. Instead share your vision and reasons for your point of view. Maybe the team doesn’t really understand the “salmonella” you’re working to convey. Step back, and calmly explain your vision.
  3. Ask Questions – People behave in patterns for a reason. There’s always a counter argument. Ask sincere (not sarcastic) questions and truly listen for the response. It turns out, my labels were still confusing. Lunch meat is meat after all.
  4. Model It – Roll up your sleeves and calmly model the behavior. Ask them to join you and explain what you’re doing and why. Again, gently. It’s easy to act like a jerk when you’re frustrated and fuming.
  5. Tell Stories – Tell your friend’s story of the provolone kept in the meat drawer that made her whole family sick. Stories are always more memorable than yelling.