"You're going to have emotional employees, and it's easy to want to avoid them because they can be exhausting. But they're giving you an invaluable coaching opportunity, and here's how you're can take advantage of it. Anticipate people having negative emotions because they're so common. In today's work environment, it's easy to get frustrated, stressed, or anxious when things don't work out the way people want; which is most of the time. They get embarrassed, disgusted, or resentful. When that happens, encourage them to talk about their feelings because it demonstrates your compassion.
Let them vent because they need to, and that's a way of calming their emotional brain.
- Don't discourage or discount their emotions, because they'll think you don't understand.
- Never dispute what they're feeling either, because their emotions are real.
- And don't judge their emotions because that will shut them down.
When people vent and you empathize and you don't judge, you're creating a safe space. If you do this, they're going to trust you more.
Now you can help them process their emotions. Listen for their triggers. Where's the emotion coming from? Remember, every emotion is based on an underlying thought. If the employee thinks they've been mistreated, they're going to be resentful. If they think they can't do what you're asking, they're going to feel stressed. This is your coaching opportunity, and you want to help the employee choose better thoughts.
Resentment and stress are counterproductive emotions driven by counterproductive thoughts. As their coach, you want to introduce more useful thoughts; thoughts that lead to more productive emotions.
You can start by correcting any misunderstandings, misperceptions, or miscommunication. A lot of counterproductive thoughts are misguided. They're simply not accurate. And you can deal with their negative emotions by introducing more accurate ways of thinking.
But sometimes their negative underlying thought is accurate, and that's okay. Let's say they really screwed something up and they're feeling embarrassed. The negative underlying thought might be, "I looked really bad", or "I look really bad." Maybe they do. It happens. But fixating on that thought isn't going to help them. So you have to introduce other more useful thoughts.
Here are some examples.
- 'Mistakes happen'.
- 'You were well intended'.
- 'This is a learning opportunity'.
- 'People have already moved on, and you should too'.
These are five discrete thoughts that are reasonable, logical, and useful. They're not cliches. You didn't say, "Don't worry about it." Or, "It'll be okay." You introduced five bankable thoughts the employee can build on.
Remember, emotional employees are inviting you to coach, but they're un-coachable until they've been heard. So help them process their emotions and avoid cliched responses. Help them find more accurate and useful thoughts, and you'll turn their negative emotions into more positive action."
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