A lot of business situations get blown out of proportion because of misunderstandings or misperceptions. Careers have been destroyed, projects terminated and reputations ruined because people did not interpret what was written or said to them during a tense situation.
This is especially true for passionate leaders. People who lead by putting their heart on their sleeve tend to “feel” about situations before they comprehend the situation. This is one of their best and worst qualities as when they read the situation correctly, they are able to mobilize their team and solve the problem quickly.
Situations also tend to spin out of control for these leaders. When they misread the situation, they tend to personalize the problem and it causes them to lose perspective. They alienate their team, their key stakeholders and their allies when this happens.
To avoid this, I suggest that you use the “Listen, Process, React” approach to handling situations. Much like “Ready, Aim, Fire”, this approach enables you to hone in on the target in a methodical way.
Listen– read or hear the words being spoken without any added emotion. What is the sender trying to say without reading into the words? Try to comprehend each sentence.
Process– what is the person trying to convey? Decide what other information may be needed to truly understand the situation. Think through the words and see how you are key to solving the issue. Ask for more clarification.
React- in a positive manner. Flying off the handle or going off the grid is not going to help bring the issue to a resolution. It ends up taking an issue and having it grow into a monumental problem. Ask how the issue can be resolved together. Collaboration can defuse even the tensest situations.
Remember your goal as a leader to solve problems so that your team can perform at its peak. Getting sidetracked by overacting to a situation before you either thoroughly understand it or have thought about how it is going to be solved is a sure way to reduce your team’s effectiveness.
This overreaction also will damage your reputation; many people say things they regret during heated moments. You can have ten years of good ruined by one poorly chosen fit.