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In the moment

Every day, leaders find themselves in situations that provoke emotional responses. Stress and fatigue can heighten these responses, and as I discussed in Who's listening: the voice of power, leaders' voices (and reactions) carry disproportionate weight. Being able to diffuse emotional situations is a skill that can be sharpened. Think through your responses now before you need them.

  • Practice neutral expressions.

  • Be aware of the tone and volume of your voice.

  • Have an escape route. Not necessarily a physical escape, but a way to pause the conversation:

    • Acknowledge the moment, and offer to come back to it later.

    • Ask questions to add some distraction and insert some curiosity into the conversation.

    • Take a quick break, then reconvene.

  • Recognize the emotion and bring the discussion back to facts. Is everyone working with the same information?

Consistent, clear communication is one of the best ways to keep teams informed and prevent unwelcome reactions.


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