5 Ways to Stay Calm When Addressing Abrasive Behavior

Imagine this…

You’re a leader addressing one of your top-performer’s abrasive behavior.

You’re in the midst of telling her you’ve received a series of complaints about treating employees disrespectfully.

Your demeanor is calm, and your tone of voice conveys that you genuinely care about helping your top performer overcome negative perceptions about her leadership style.

You reassure her that you’re making her aware of these negative perceptions so she has an opportunity to turn them around and continue to succeed in the organization.

And then the top-performing employee, who you’re trying to help, angrily lashes out at you…

People are making this up.”

“You’re doing this to me because you don’t like me.”

“You don’t know what happened, you weren’t there.”

What do you do? How do you keep your cool and stay calm?

Before you say another word or react defensively, PAUSE

Pause – Take a beat by focusing on your breath to stay anchored in the present moment.

Allow – Bring awareness to what’s happening inside of you. Identify what you’re feeling. 

Understand—Both of you are getting triggered by the fight-or-flight reaction, which is understandable given the nature of the conversation. Regardless of being triggered, you’re still in charge of managing your reaction.

Sink In – Let calmness sink in as you continue to breathe, putting a brake pedal on your fight-or-flight reaction, and allowing rational thinking to surface by remembering…

Even though – Your employee is defensive, you are fulfilling your responsibility to promote a physically and psychologically safe environment for all of your employees.

About the author 

Bonnie Artman Fox, MS, LMFT works with executive leaders who want to gain self-awareness about the impact of their words and actions and up-level their interpersonal skills. 

Drawing from decades as a psychiatric nurse and licensed family therapist, Bonnie brings a unique perspective to equip executive leaders with the roadmap to emotional intelligence that brings teams together. 

Bonnie’s leadership Turnaround coaching program has an 82% success rate in guiding leaders to replace abrasive behavior with tact, empathy, and consideration of others. The end result is a happy, healthy, and profitable workplace…sooner vs. later.

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