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Managing Your Team’s Temper Tantrums

by Kim Ades February 8, 2018

How do you react when people are upset with you? Do you get upset too? Here’s how to manage anyone’s temper tantrums.

temper tantrums
It was 9:30 at night and we were in Florida. My husband Allan and I decided to make a quick run to Walmart to pick up some light bulbs, some peanut butter and some apples. We figured that at 9:30 p.m. the store would be empty and we would be able to get in and out quickly with our purchase.

We were wrong.

The store was packed. It was hard to move the shopping cart without bumping into someone and the line-ups at the checkout counters were super long. We decided to divide and conquer and meet back at the checkout line.

After finding what I wanted, I texted Allan: “I’m in lane #7.” I had guessed it was the shortest line. He met me there.

Behind us stood a young couple and a two-year-old boy with a shopping cart full of socks and underwear and other knick-knacks. The boy was having one of those temper tantrums that one might categorize as colossal. The mother was holding her squirming child, desperately trying to calm him. The screeches were getting louder and louder. It went on for a few good minutes.

I noticed that his nose was running, so I pulled out my handy pack of Kleenex from my purse and offered one to the mom. As she wiped her child’s nose, he stopped crying just long enough for me to lean over, point up to the sky and say, “Did you see the bird? He flew into the store right through the front doors! Listen carefully, the bird is singing.”

Right on cue, Allan turned his head away from the boy and started whistling like a bird. The boy was captivated.

I continued with my story…

“Did you hear that? The bird is in the store, looking for his other bird friends. They are here to buy shoes because all birds need shoes!”

I carried on for about 10 minutes, keeping the boy calm the entire time. It was clear that he was tired and a little under the weather and just wanted to go home to get a good night’s sleep. His parents were amazed at how calm he became. After laughing at my bird story, the mother said, “I need lessons.”

My only piece of advice was “Just be patient.”

The only way to handle ANYONE’s temper tantrums is by staying calm and being patient. It is not uncommon for team members to become frustrated, upset or even angry about the decisions we make as leaders or undesirable situations they find themselves in. How we react to these types of outbursts can vastly impact their duration and their outcome.

When an employee becomes irate and we join them in that mood, nobody wins. But when we assume positive intent and react calmly and patiently, we are able to hear them out, address their concerns or turn their attention to something more productive.

Handling temper tantrums is one of the many skills that we teach our clients. When you learn to navigate tough situations with grace, your whole life becomes much more peaceful and enjoyable. To find out more, start by taking the Frame of Mind Coaching™ Assessment.

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