By Stephanie Reynolds

When you are stressed or concerned, you don’t have to pretend you are OK and just “muster on”.  Common beliefs are that leaders must not show their negative feelings and be the one with a smile on their face and a positive attitude. This is actually not helpful.

Others around often will sense your discomfort, not know what’s it’s about, and may think you are not happy with them personally, or upset about something they are doing. They then can over-react in non-productive ways. Examples of this can be over analyzing data, asking you questions about something you weren’t happy with before, avoiding telling you about something else that is going wrong, or running off randomly to start a project you might have mentioned.

Here’s a thought

Let folks know you are not feeling terrific that day (not sick), and it’s not about them. That will give you leeway to be yourself, without having to disclose personal issues.

Practice paying attention to how you feel, and then notice how others respond to you.

It could be quite revealing. We’ve worked with so many Executives that were literally “clueless” about how their moods affected their direct reports.

One leader had a stiff neck one day and didn’t turn to look at an employee in a meeting for an hour due to it. When the employee did his exit interview a year later, he cited that day as a turning point in their relationship. He felt the leader wasn’t interested in what he had to say, and from that moment on, assumed that was true and acted from that belief, reading into every communication between them henceforth.

Giving  folks a “heads up” that you’ve got something on your mind that is not about them, and not about promoting someone else, can help them relax and keep them engaged in what you need them to be doing. They will appreciate your disclosure, no matter how much information you share.

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