How To Recover After Losing Your Cool With One Simple Question
Updated: Jun 13
One of the worst displays of emotion, in any environment, is losing your cool in a situation and then struggling to recover. As a business owner, a valuable skill is to know how to gain control of a situation and solve problems at work. But without that self-control the outrage that you feel from a series of events not going as planned, can build to an escalated rant and create even more problems for you. When you're in this state, problem solving is the furthest from your mind, as you make every effort to gain control and get your plan back on track.
Business Owners Need Develop Skills To Handle Crisis and Solve Problems
Business owners are confronted with issues daily, whether it's on the phone with the supplier for a late delivery, or for the wrong item that you really counted on. Or at your store, or office, and your employee lost an important customer. A crisis could also be because of the hail storm at an important, outdoor event that you worked hard to promote, and spent lots of time and money on. Or at the airport when the flight is delayed, and you'll miss an opportunity to pitch a product to a new customer. There will always be instances like this in your life that mess up something that was going so good. It creates another delay when trying to grow your business, or meet an important goal, or just getting to an appointment.
The trick to getting back on track is to learn how to gain control and start problem solving.
What's At Stake If You Don't Control Your Anger
In my early years as a manager, I had a few of those losing control experiences in front of my staff, or on the phone to a supplier. And by acting this way what did it get me? Nothing!
Actually, I did get something out of it. I got to be good at putting on the blinders and walking away from an unsolved mess. I would tell my next in commend, "You handle it. I can't deal with this right now." And I went home to soak in the bath, call up my girlfriend, or anyone who would answer their phone, and vent.
It wasn't my problem. It was everyone else's problem.
After a night's sleep, I would came into the office and hope that the people who usually sat at each desk were still there. And to my surprise they were. Business as usual.
Or was it?
The tone was changed to something more serious. That joyful laughter was gone and the sharing of the prior evening's activities was reduced to a grin.
What I did was create a greater distance between myself and my employees. I lost a bit of that connection and commitment from them. The team was bruised.
What's the Wrong First Step To Solve Problems?
When your plans are foiled, there's that search for someone or something to blame. In your mind this is the first place to start. It may go something like this...
Who is to blame and how can I discipline them? How can I make them suffer for messing things up? They're the reason this company is failing, so I must let them know, and they must feel remorseful!
After losing control, do you think this gets you any closer to your goal?
Sadly, no. It just makes people feel like they did something wrong. It makes them feel less of a person. It makes them feel like a door mat for when things go wrong. Eventually that door mat will move onto another company, or environment where they feel appreciated.
What Are The Consequences To Not Practicing Self-control?
When you're at the airport and you see on the departure screen, next to your flight, that's to take off in 30 minutes: "DELAYED" or worse, "CANCELLED", what do you do?
You look for the next available employee from the airline, right? And when you finally find that employee and you have their attention, what do you say to them?
Do you let them know how this delay in the flight will ruin your vacation? And how the airline should compensate you?
You have one chance to communicate with this person so they can help you find a solution to your problem. And if you start in with the first step of who to blame and how to make them suffer, that airline employee will shut you down and put you in the hands of security where they're trained to deal with "people like you."
When people are being yelled at they shut down. This can be a child, or an adult. Instead of helping you, they're looking for the nearest exit, and how they can quickly get away from you! It's that fight or flight reaction to a threat, and you are the threat!
Blaming and punishing someone is the worst course of action you can take. This will have the person quit on you, walk away from you, hang up on you, or leave you. Then you lost a prime opportunity to solve the problem.
How To Move From Losing Your Cool To Solving Problems
When you have that one precious moment with that person in front of you, whether it's someone on your team, or the airline employee, or the supplier, or your spouse... you must think about what would be the best use of this time. When you lose your cool, the main reason for this outburst is because you lost control and that scares you. There is that deep desire to be in control at all times and this power was taken away from you. The bullet-proof plan you had in place has collapsed and because you didn't see it going any other way, except working out perfectly, you are stuck.
You now have to rely on others to help you, and who would want to help you if you're screaming at them!
Those few moments you have with the person in front of you can go one of two ways:
Lose the opportunity to solve the problem and sever the relationship, or
Solve the problem and enrich the relationship
If you're under the tent at an outdoor event, with pouring rain around you and watching people scramble for shelter, you maybe thinking that this is a wash. Instead of complaining about how much you'll lose from this unplanned weather, look to the person next to you, who might be your child, you spouse, or your friend, or employee. Then ask them, "How can we make this moment better? How can we solve this problem, or salvage this day?"
You're an entrepreneur, which also means you're a problem solver. And sometimes you lose your cool. But you must remember the value of the people you have around you.
The next time you feel negative emotions escalating, take a deep breath and then quickly get to that one simple question, "Can you help me solve this?"
If you know someone who may benefit from this info, please share!
Christine Hourd is a certified success and leadership life coach in Calgary, Alberta, who assists business owners and professionals manage anger in stressful situations, in their personal and professional life. Contact Christine to find out how Leadership Coaching can help you achieve your professional goals.