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You likely know someone who has a short fuse. They end up blowing up over small issues, or difficult employees can overreact to an announcement that you make in your workgroup.
How can you as a leader not allow that to aggravate you, and how do you help that other person lengthen their fuse?
Use the three C’s:
The first C is to cool down. Anyone who blows up because they got overexcited and overreacted needs an opportunity to simply cool down. You can do this by walking away for a few minutes to let that person simmer down a little. You cannot engage them in a logical conversation or debate when they are already overheated because of their short fuse. So, let them cool down a little bit.
The second C is to contemplate. This is not for you, but rather to give your employee a chance to contemplate. Give them a chance to think things through. This will lengthen their fuse and perhaps cause them to react differently next time.
The third and final C is to allow them to change their mind.
People who take a very hard stance, even if it’s an overreaction, are often embarrassed to admit that they were wrong and that their reaction should have been different. Your job as a leader is to give them an escape hatch or a way to change their mind so that they can take a more constructive approach.
When you do that a few times, you may find that the person who normally gets really abrasive very quickly because of their short fuse actually starts to think a little bit before they speak. If it continues on, what you can do is take them aside and have a coaching conversation with them so that they can become even more effective.
Once you have figured out how to deal with employees who have short fuses, you may want to work on other leadership habits and behaviors. That is where we come in with our Front Line Leadership training. It is available on site for your team or through public workshops, and it’s available virtually and in person.
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