Actions are one thing. Decisions are another. The worst time to make decisions is when you’re upset or feeling down. Your emotions will lead you to decide things you’ll regret. So just decide not to decide anything that day. Here’s the rule I’ve adopted in life in and leadership when I’m in bad space: Don’t make tomorrow’s decisions based on today’s emotions.
Ever have a bad day?
Of course you do. You’re human.
As much as you don’t like days like that (does anybody?) they’re inevitable in leadership.
Someone sends you an email that sets you off.
A crisis hijacks the day you were going to spend getting a project done.
Unexpected bad news pours in.
You experience conflict with a teammate.
You simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
When I began in leadership, days like that often cost me more deeply than they had to:
I would sometimes say things I regretted
I occasionally took my frustrations out on people around me
My family suffered if I came home and allowed my mood to ruin the atmosphere
In fact, when I look around me, I see too many leaders who let bad days undermine their leadership again and again.
When they allows their mood to ricochet through the organization, a bad day can lead to several bad days for many others. It can fester conflict among team members. And it can jeopardize their home life.
So how do you deal with a bad day?
Here are seven strategies I’ve adopted that can help with a bad day.
- Ask yourself: What would an emotionally intelligent person do?
Emotional intelligence is all about developing a self-awareness of how your attitudes and actions impact others, and leveraging that to further the team and others.
As Daniel Goleman points out in his classic book, Emotional Intelligence , emotionally intelligent people rarely let their state of mind bring others down. They’ve developed behaviours that compensate for their emotional state so they don’t drag other people down with them.
So quite literally, on my worst day, I ask myself “What would an emotionally intelligent person do?”
I imagine what they would do, then I do everything I can to do it.
Try it. It works.
- Don’t act on your emotions
Emotionally intelligent people don’t act on their negative emotions.
Those who lack self-awareness in the moment will.
It’s a mistake.
You’ll say things you regret. You’ll do things you’ll wish you could take back.
So when you’re having a bad day, don’t act on your emotions. Don’t do anything stupid.
Don’t even let anyone ‘have it’ because you’re in a bad mood.
If the worst thing that happens on a bad day is that you have some angry thoughts, at least they stayed thoughts.
- Don’t make any significant decisions
- Divert to accomplish a short term win
- Confide and pray
- Call it a day
- Get a great night’s sleep.