Learn NOT To Overreact

As a leader, this is a really important thing to learn. Remember being a parent is a leadership position.

No one likes to deal with people who overreact to changes or just news in general.

Some people, and you know who they are, and some of them might even be YOU, react with a negative response at first when they hear something is changing or when they hear some news about something.

If they are alone at home, this is fine; but if they are in front of others and especially their team and do this, they are setting the wrong leadership example.

One important leadership behavior that is important is to remain calm, cool, and collected.  I am not saying that you cannot be firm with someone and tell them the consequences of his or her work habits or attitude and behaviors.  I am saying that we, as leaders, need to stay in control.  Sure, give your opinion . . . but wait until YOU are sure that you have all the facts and that you know all of the details of what you have heard and why it is changing.

Many of the business decisions that are made are very complicated and have had hours of discussion and review.  It is very difficult to communicate all of the thinking that went into every decision, so this is the time to support our Company and the decisions being made.  Be positive and professional when you hear about change!

Have you ever been to a sports event for kids, such as a soccer game or Little League game and witnessed an overreacting parent who is yelling at the coach or the referees or, even worse, the kids?  Remember how stupid you thought that person was.  People overreact with their spouses, partners, children, relatives, friends, peers at work, direct reports at work, and even Guests sometimes.  Stay cool, stay calm, stay collected, so that you will be thought of as a leader who is thoughtful and in charge versus being thought of as an out-of-control manager, spouse, partner, parent, or leader.

Don’t overreact with a quick, mean e-mail, voice mail, or public outcry.  Take your time to gather the facts; and then if you have a case, go and make it.  Be armed with the facts so you are not labeled as a hothead who acts emotionally.  In this way you will show that You Have Learned Not To Overreact.   . . . Lee

3 Comments
  1. This is so true, but with everything it takes practice to master. I am learning to not overreact to things until I am given the facts.

  2. As an executive recruiter I find that I am continually juggling as many as 10-15 search assignments every day. It is so easy to overreact to problems that come up, especially with individuals careers and the frustrations they go through. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and guess what, it’s all small stuff.”

    Gary Stewart
    gary.stewart@charter.net

  3. When I finished flight school in the Army, I sought a mentor in my first unit. I told him that I wanted to work hard and become a Command-Pilot in the future. He conveyed that my motivation was appreciated but that achieving my goal was highly unlikely due to my rank (few commissioned officers are Command-Pilots in the Army). I was not happy… He gave me a valuable tip that has paid big dividends over the past decade. My mentor suggested that I carry a 3 x 5 card in my pocket for these types of situations. When I feel I may overreact, I (privately) jot down a quick note on the card, tell myself “This is for tomorrow,” having asked the peer, subordinate, or manager with whom I am in conflict if I can set aside time to discuss the challenge with them the next day. This allows for separating emotions from the heart of the problem. An unexpected benefit has been that the other person is often taken aback by my calmness, and spends the next 24 hours making sure they are prepared to actively listen. My experience has been that this leads to more productive interactions. Hope this helps!

    Casey Payne
    cvpayne@gmail.com

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