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VALIDATE: Validate their anger. Their anger is real and important to them. It's who they perceive themselves to be (at moment they feel angry) in their relationship with you. Many people embrace their anger. They may see it as one thing that they can control in an environment in which they feel out of control. If you try to ignore that anger or belittle it, they will feel you are belittling them. Tell them that you know they are angry and that you want to find out why. Avoid saying things like, "I know you're angry ... but ... " That "but" can harden them against you. Saying, "Help me understand why you feel angry about what I'm doing." can get you farther than "but." This is not to condone their anger nor approve of it but simply to come to an agreement with them that it exists and that you intend to do something about it in a way that will be mutually beneficial.
TRANSLATE: Their anger is your opportunity, an opportunity to translate their anger into your results. Because, as you'll see, their anger can be great raw material for results.
People get angry for many reasons. * Their time is being wasted. * Their individual worth is not respected. * They feel threatened. * Their efforts are not appreciated. 5. They are not given voice or choice in their work. * Their values are not recognized or given credence. * Their leaders cannot do their jobs well. * Their leaders focus on their own needs. * Their leaders don't understand and acknowledge their needs. * Their leaders don't provide clear direction. * They are being overworked. 11. They are being set up to fail.
Here is a process for translating their anger into your results.
I call it problem/solution/action process. The key to this process is that people's anger usually stems from an unresolved problem. A. With their help, identify problem. B. Come to an agreement with them as to causes of that problem. C. Help them find a solution. D. Challenge them to take action to solve problem. E. Link that action to increases in results.
You can apply this process to any of aforementioned reasons people get angry. As an example, let's apply it to first reason. Often, a key challenge in getting others to take new action is their complaining you are wasting their time.
A. Draw up two lists, one composed of aspects of their job they believe waste their time, and other of aspects they feel are crucial.
B. Come to an agreement with them on which aspects are truly a waste of their time and which aren't. Without such agreement, they may remain angry with you. For instance, they may feel that their having to complete a particular report or aspects of that report wastes their time. If you think that such reports are absolutely essential, you cannot continue this process unless you convince them that reports are essential or that you will change them to make them essential. C. Once you come to that agreement, work on each aspect in "waste of time" list by applying this analytical tool: Decide if you want to leave it alone, change it, or eliminate it. There is no fourth choice!
D. If you have chosen to change it, have them suggest actions they will take to do so. Note sequence here. Your first step in changing an aspect is to elicit from them what needs to be changed and actions required to affect change. If need be, you can always veto their choice. But if you first let them make that choice, you may find that they have delineated actions that tap a new vein of results. At very least, they will be committed to those actions, since they go right to heart of solving problem of their anger.
E. Link those actions to increases in results. For instance, now that they have reduced, eliminated or changed a particular aspect of their job that was a problem for them, how will that translate into money saved/earned?
Be advised: You may be confronted by "professionally angry" people who will be angry and stay angry no matter what you do. Just being you or just being a leader or just being you as a leader gets them angry, and nothing you can do or say seems to change that. But keep working four-step process. It's your best way of remedying even "professionals" anger.
2005 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at www.actionleadership.com