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When you’re angry with a team member, how do you approach it?

When you're angry with a team member, how do you approach it?
(Image credit: SmartBrief)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When you’re angry with a team member, how do you approach it?

  • I cool off and don’t show any emotion when I speak with them. 45%
  • I wait a bit to talk to them but show them some of my anger. 51%
  • I pause first but let them see a lot of my anger. 3%
  • I unload my anger toward them immediately so they can see it. 1%

Pause and compose. The vast majority of you (96%) pause for some period of time before confronting a colleague who has made you mad. Cooler heads can have more rational discussions. The groups seems evenly split, though, on whether to show some of the anger when the conversation does happen. The pro of showing that anger is the person really gets a sense for how much they’ve upset you, but the con is it could inflame the situation. Conversely, not showing your anger and simply expressing concerns could cause them to misread how much their actions upset you, which might lead to repeat behavior. In any case, deliberately choose which approach you’ll take (whether or not to show some anger) and have a deliberate reason for doing so. Also, have a contingent strategy if your choice goes wrong. If you’re showing anger and it makes things worse, hit pause and cool off. If they seem to be ignoring your concern, perhaps let some of the anger show.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN — the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”