How to Show Up When Emotion is Hot and Decisions Matter

Emotional heat tears things down.

You resent a company policy, emotional heat complains about the entire company. You don’t like a team member, you undermine. A leader disappoints, you attack.

Any fool can tear down. Leaders build up.

How to show up when emotion is hot:

Showing up to build up requires humility, intelligence, foresight, grit, relationship, and compassion.

#1. Show up to serve the best interest of others.

#2. Show up for others with awareness of yourself.

#3. Show up with compassion when emotion is hot.

Anger might be a start, but compassion crosses the finish line.

People do stupid things. Your response is about you, not them.

Call out mediocrity, inadequacy, or offense with compassion.

Confrontation combined with emotional heat is cruel.

Confrontation with compassion connects and inspires.

Without compassion, confrontation weakens relationships and complicates the path forward.

  1. Turn toward, not away.
  2. Strengthen connections between others.
  3. Understand and accept the quirks of team members.
  4. Find ways to build up instead of tear down.

Questions when emotion is high and compassion low:

  1. What is top of mind for you right now?
  2. How are your current attitude and actions serving others?
  3. What do you really want for your team?

A transformative question:

Compassion isn’t top of mind when emotion bubbles over. I’ve found the following question often transforms negative thinking.

What is your compassionate self telling you to do next?

How to craft a transformative question:

Ask about the “other” self, when emotion sabotages.

  1. When someone is fearful, ask, “What does your courageous self tell you to do next?”
  2. When someone is self-protective, ask, “What does your vulnerable self tell you to do next?”
  3. When someone is self-serving, ask, “What does your generous self tell you to do next?”

Tip: Limit action to the next step. The distant future is the enemy of immediate progress when emotion is hot.

What does compassion look like when emotion is hot and decisions matter?

Crucial Conversations (Book)

5 Ways the Most Effective Leaders Manage Their Emotions (Fast Company)

7 Inspiring Traits of Compassionate Leadership (Entrepreneur)