7 Things I Learned About Expressing Frustration from a State Trooper

Most leaders don’t know how to best use and effectively express frustration.

Unexpressed frustration turns into more frustration. Poorly expressed frustration makes matters worse.


Image from Google Maps

The Story:

A State Trooper pulled me over just after the Harrisburg East Toll Plaza, Exit 247. I was merging onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

He had a violator pulled over on the entrance ramp. (See map.) I saw the blue lights flashing. As I approached, I saw the violator begin to move forward and turn on his direction signal. I should have slowed down.

Apparently the violator saw me coming and moved right to allow me to pass. I sped up, passed both vehicles, and entered the highway. Moments later the Trooper was behind me.

Standing at the opened passenger window he showed me how to express anger like a leader.

“I just had a conversation with some Toll Plaza workers about drivers who put people at risk by speeding through Toll Plazas. Workers walk between toll booths while drivers speed through the EZ-Pass lanes at 35 mph.” (The limit is 5 mph.) He went on.

“You saw my lights and the driver pulling out, but you blew right past us. You put yourself and others at risk.”

“Be more careful while you’re driving,” he said, as he turned to walk away.

Seven lessons in expressing frustration:

  1. He didn’t raise his voice, frown, or act aggressively.
  2. He got right to the point. He didn’t ask for my license and registration.
  3. He said what he saw.
  4. He told a personal story about others. Leaderly frustration focuses on the best interest of others. It’s not about you.
  5. He was brief.
  6. He said what he wanted.
  7. He didn’t belittle or attack me.

Use the energy of frustration to address issues like a leader.

What are some leaderly ways to use or express frustration?

What concerns you about leaders who express frustration?