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  • Jordan Kerner

Drive-Thru Anger

Blog on anger and leadership. Leading without anger.
Leading without anger

Anger Management

There I was… Driving. It was nighttime on a nice summer evening. I just had a wonderful day with friends and family, and all felt right in the world. I pulled into a fast food restaurant. In order to minimize judgement, I will not disclose the establishment. As I pulled in, I saw a younger employee walking out and making his way to his ride. I imagine it was his parent picking him up. I passed the car on the way to the drive-thru order menu, glanced over, and noticed the parent immediately verbally laying into his child. I was shocked. I obviously have no idea what the situation was, and the son may have, in fact, been in some really big trouble. But I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for this kid. He just worked a shift at a fast food restaurant, and his greeting and accomplishment of finishing the shift was to be berated by his father. This moment happened months ago, but I still remember it vividly. I instantly began asking myself how I deal with my own anger? Do I bottle my emotions and blow up like a boiling teapot (or perhaps something much more masculine…)? Do I employ this “Drive-Thru” anger tactic where I wait and ambush someone when they don’t expect it, when they are tired, or perhaps not ready or prepared to have the conversation? Luckily, for all involved in my life, I can pretty safely answer no to both of those questions. Albeit, my vulnerability could always use improvement.

What about you, though? How are you consistently handling your anger and or frustrations with your employees, coworkers, and spouse/partner? There are a few things to consider before initiating a tough conversation:

1. If you are frustrated, chances are the other party is experiencing some frustrations as well. If this is true, you may want to really reconsider your approach and tone to the conversation. There’s nothing like bitter, frustrated people getting in an increasingly heated discussion.

2. Ask yourself why you’re upset. You’re upset because they didn’t file the report on time? Sure, they filed the report late; but what did that late report affect in the organization, and is it fixable?

3. Have you ever made the same mistake, or a mistake of equal value? I guarantee you can answer yes to this question, and it’s important for you to remember the grace you wish you would have received during that time.

Be Demanding, Never Demeaning.

I have a personal saying, “The grace we receive needs to be substantially less than that in which we provide.” Of course, there has to be accountability, structure, and organization to your processes; I’m not advocating for anarchy. What I am advocating for, though, is a pursuit of your people (or partner) with generous compassion and willingness to coach. It’s important for you to consistently and openly talk with those around you, professionally and personally, about what is going on, how and why you’re frustrated, and what it would look like to pursue a profitable situation together. This isn’t nitpicking, but you need to be careful in determining what’s small and what is worth talking about. REALSource does an incredible job of this with its people. As a medium-sized company, it’s a lot easier to get closer with those you work with. That doesn’t mean there won’t be frustrations; it’s okay to have frustrations. In fact, when you have an associate that’s frustrated with how something is going, that is a great indication that they are invested. This is amazing! Therefore, when you have a frustrated associate, take the opportunity to really hear them out.

Rhythm and Respect

The point you want to focus on and consider is the importance of not holding frustrations in. Don’t let problems go on and on; because before you know it, you’re in the middle of the drive-thru having a meltdown. Let’s all avoid drive-thru anger and approach conflicts in a timely and compassionate way. As your team builds rhythm and respect, this process will get much easier. Until then, continue building trust and chemistry with your team, with your partner, and always pursue a mutually profitable situation with compassion and empathy.

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