CEO Blog

Taming Passion Reaction

Published on March 12, 2015 Back to the trenches
Two Men Embracing After Passionate Arguement

At Small Army (and Small Army for a Cause), I have the good fortune of working with people who are greatly talented and passionate about what they do. From account managers and creative professionals to clients and partners, everyone is committed to creating the best possible work. However, in a highly collaborative environment, where many people contribute to the end product, such passion can also cause some friction.

Tight deadlines, client requests, executive demands, budget implications and other factors often cause people to make decisions quickly – without involving all members of the team. And, when others on the team learn of such decisions/actions, they often react negatively because (1) they simply weren’t included and/or (2) they don’t believe it was the correct decision. I call it “passion reaction.” And, if not managed properly, the fall-out can be disastrous.

Fortunately, with insights from my friend, advisor and leadership coach, Joan Bragar, I’ve identified a solution that has proven to work time and time again. So, next time this happens to you (or someone complains to you about such a situation), try this:

1. Take a deep breathe.
You cannot move to step #2 until you have calmed down a bit. Breathe.

2. Tell yourself that the decision was not made in malice. 
While you may not think so, the other person is probably as passionate about creating great work as you are. 99.9% of the time, the decision was made with all the best of intentions (they are not out to get you or destroy the work). Do not jump to conclusions before you know the whole story.

3. Get the whole story – from the person that knows it
In these situations, the typical reaction is to run to others who will likely “side with you” and validate your reaction. Instead, be an adult. Simply approach the person who made the decision and ask them why they did what they did (nicely). Again, 99.9% of the time, there is a very reasonable answer (whether you agree with it or not).

4. Share your “upset”
Regardless of the response (#3), let the person know what upset you. Deep down, it probably wasn’t the decision itself – it was how the decision was made. As much as you need to know what caused them to do what they did, they need to know what caused you to get upset.

5. Identify solutions
It will happen again. But, when both parties better understand each other, they can better prevent it from happening too often.

6. Hug it out (optional)
A good hug is always a nice way to overcome an upset. But, perhaps just a hand shake or smile is more your style.

7. Get back to work.

Have a great day!
Jeff