Be Curious Instead of Angry

Anger is our natural response to threat. When we are threatened or attached anger is our automatic response and pushes us to fight back and act quickly and forcefully to protect ourselves. The challenge is anger gets in the way of problem solving. When we are angry and engage in conversation, the other person will pick up on our feelings and likely respond in kind.

Let’s say for example a colleague fails to complete their part of the project on time. You are upset. The delay may put the project in jeopardy. You need to have a conversation to resolve the issue and get the project back on track. Before you start the conversation, get out your journal or a piece of paper and write down what about this situation makes you feel angry?
Possible answers include – I will have to work extra hours to make up for their part of the project and I might miss an important family event. This is par for the course; they rarely hold up their end of the bargain and the entire team gets blamed for it! They just can’t seem to follow through on anything.

Write until you aren’t able to think of any other reasons. Get it all down on paper. Now take a few breaths and shift from anger to curiosity. Ask yourself “I wonder what’s happening that is causing their behavior.” In other words there is a reason for their behavior, and you want to find out what it is. You won’t know the answer to this question until you have the conversation. So, you can start the conversation with curiosity. You can begin with “I noticed that you missed the deadline on XYZ project, help me understand what caused that?” Then be quite and listen.

Next time you need speak to a co-worker because you are frustrated by their behavior come from a place of curiosity and let me know how it goes. Post your response here.