When something goes wrong, our first reaction can be pretty intense. Emotions such as anger, frustration or disappointment can overwhelm us and our questioning aimed at finding out what happened can be driven by our need to lay blame. Even if we aren’t looking to attribute blame, others around us may assume this by our tone of voice, body gestures, facial expression and the words we use.
The person who has made the error is usually now aware of it and feeling pretty bad (this may show up as defiance and arrogance or in tears and apologies). We don’t have to make them feel worse to make ourselves feel better.
In the heat of the moment, when something goes wrong, take a deep breath, let the emotional wave ride over and through you (or submerge/suppress it if you have to) and change the hat you are wearing.
Based on De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats ®, you may start with the white hat (information seeking) but don’t let the red (emotional) or black (judgmental) hat settle over you. Rather reach for the yellow hat of optimism. Try the green hat for creativity and problem solving and the blue hat to manage the thinking process.
Look to turn these situations around to one of problem solving. Even when your initial reaction may have been quite emotionally negative, you can lighten up the atmosphere and shift yourself and others into a much more positive state. Problem solving can create collaboration, good will and even some excitement.
Amaze yourself (and your colleagues) by trying this approach.