3 Networking Strategies Shy Professionals Can’t Miss

No matter how you slice it, your career health depends on your relationships. Here are three powerful networking strategies that work even if you’re shy!

A lot has been written about developing your network. But if our monthly Step Up Plus coaching sessions are any indication, this continues to be an activity most of us could learn a bit more about.

One of the most effective networking strategies: find ways to support the people in your network!

One of the most effective networking strategies: find ways to support the people in your network!

Steal these Networking strategies

I’ll keep it short, sweet and to the point. Let’s look at three particularly effective networking strategies you can start implementing right away.

1Be the organizer

No doubt, this is one of my favorite networking strategies. Nothing beats the opportunities to expand your network like being the organizer of anything. Think about it. Just for starters: The organizer manages the agenda, the guest list, and the communications. Three great touch points for networking. So whenever in doubt, organize. Conferences, webinars, workshops, after-hours, small get-togethers where you can introduce people to people, anything of value. And if you are shy or introverted, partner with a colleague who’s more outgoing or extroverted. You can divide the activities and conquer.

The day of the event, it’s always easier to network alongside another person who knows you well. You can take turns to introduce each other and to highlight the other person’s virtues. In this case, not only would you have your co-conspirator with you, but also people will approach you, as you will be their hostess. This makes it easier to meet people. It saves you from having to approach them yourself.

Among the best networking strategies you can practice is to be on the organization side of things.

Among the best networking strategies you can practice is to be on the organization side of things.

2Make yourself useful

Whenever I’m invited to a party or to an event where I don’t know many people I find my way to the kitchen or any other “behind the scenes” area to offer my help. When I’m more engaged with the organizers of the party or event I feel less anxious about not knowing anyone there. It’s easy to make friends when you’re helping out. The secret is to do it tactfully so your host feels grateful for the extra pair of hands rather than annoyed that you’re overstepping. For this networking strategy to really work, you can’t just make a general offer such as: “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Because most people will respond with: “Thanks, but we have everything under control.”

My approach is to identify the people who are actually busy preparing, guiding guests to the coatroom, setting up any event materials, and clearly say: “Give me something to do.” Or, “tell me what I can do to help.”

Being on the helping side of things has many advantages:

  • Exposure: It’s easier for others to notice and remember you.
  • People get to know you as you’re working alongside them.
  • Playing a role takes away from standing awkwardly waiting to “meet” people.
  • It gives you an excuse to talk to strangers: “Are you looking for the coatroom? Let me show you were it is. By the way I’m so and so, nice to meet you.”

Here’s the caveat: Don’t become “the help” in the way in which often the help is invisible. Use this role as a chance to meet others reducing the stress that you may feel in these situations.

A great example of this took place in Argentina a few months ago. We invited Nathalie Stevens, the founder of La Fundación de los Colores (an NGO that trains women in vulnerable neighborhoods to do professional make-up,) to join us at an event we were doing at Universidad Austral. Rather than coming on her own, Nathalie asked if she could bring three of her women to do our team’s makeup. They had a chance to become acquainted with the Red Shoe Movement team, we introduced them to journalists and key contacts, and they interacted with others at the event from a completely different place than they would have, had they just attended as participants.

We invited la Fundación de Los Colores to one of our events. Instead of just attending they asked if they could do our makeup. Making yourself useful is a great networking strategy.

We invited la Fundación de Los Colores in Argentina to one of our events. Instead of just attending they asked if they could do our makeup. Making yourself useful is a great networking strategy.

3Amplify others’ agendas

Not your traditional networking strategy, but one that proves infallible and that you can carry out regardless of how shy you are. You do have to be active in social media, though.

This is how it works:

  • Identify the people you’d like to actively network with.
  • Start interacting with them via social media by amplifying their messages, and commenting and sharing their posts. Be careful not to cross the line and become a stalker. 🙂
  • If you have a chance to help them, do. Whether it is by introducing them to someone useful, bringing them as panelists to one of your company’s events, etc.

It doesn’t really take much to be noticed by someone who you’re helping them. As long as you remain professional, it won’t be long before you can establish a connection that can easily be moved into the real world. If that’s what you want.

Here’s the caveat for this networking strategy to work: Even though you’re approaching someone via social media, it doesn’t mean you can skip the natural steps you’d take to build an in-person relationship. Build trust before you expect anything else. And always be the first one to offer help.

Sharing via social media a presenter's slides supports their agenda by amplifying their work. It's hard not to get noticed when you're helping someone.

Sharing via social media a presenter’s slides supports their agenda by amplifying their work. It’s hard not to get noticed when you’re helping someone.

Now go out and practice these networking strategies in real life. I’ll be waiting to hear how you do. And if you have some amazing tips, please share them here!


Climbing the ladder: What women don’t know

Why aren’t more women climbing the ladder at corporations and organizations of all kinds? It’s the million-dollar question. If you really want to change the status quo, read on!

We’ve been debating this question for a long time. Mostly because it’s unfathomable that so little change has happened in decades. Are women not climbing the ladder because of a personal decision or because of organizational biases?

Climbing the ladder: Three responsible categories, not two!

Let’s look first at two, broad categories that most commonly take the blame for making it hard for women climbing the ladder.

Organizational responsibility 

There is an array of factors that deliberately or inadvertently impact the number of women at the top in a negative way. These include barriers such as unwritten rules, policies, expectations, and perceptions of what constitutes leadership potential, executive presence, etc.

For instance:

  • Often, women are not offered advice or training on business, financial and strategy which is key to reach the highest levels of an organization.

    Often, women are not offered advice or training on business, financial and strategy which is key to reach the highest levels of an organization.

    Expectations that in order to reach the C-suite you must be available 24/7. Or work late every night to entertain clients.

  • Expectations that women are still mostly responsible for family matters.
  • Perceptions of men being more competent or having more executive presence.
  • Regular skepticism, push back and challenges of women’s ideas and competences.
  • Fill-in positions through recommendations of current executives in office. (These tend to be white men and have a network with a similar make-up.)
  • Value face-time in the office for promotions(penalizing people who are mobile.)

Personal responsibility

This group of factors includes your own behaviors and decisions that impact your career trajectory.

For example:

  • How assertive you are in your communication and leadership style.
  • How strong your network of sponsors is.
  • How hard and often you negotiate for yourself along your career.
  • How visible you and your accomplishments are to key people.
  • How comfortable you are taking risks.
  • How important other pursuits outside of your career are for you.

Now, in trying to figure out which of these two categories is more responsible for women not climbing the ladder, we keep pointing fingers with little visible results.

The truth is that here’s a third category that connects Organizational and Personal. One that we haven’t paid as much attention as it deserves. One that can really make the difference.

Joined Responsibility

Climbing the ladder requires women to leverage all their assets and know as much about the business of their organization as possible.

Climbing the ladder requires women to leverage all their assets and know as much about the business of their organization as possible.

This category is the space where both individual women and organizations share responsibility for more women not climbing the ladder. Due to the way in which organizations have traditionally perceived and promoted men and women, and social norms affecting both genders, some advice and training fell through the cracks. Companies didn’t offer it. Women didn’t ask for it.

This advice refers to the expectation that a person must have certain abilities in order to reach C-level. Advice that hasn’t been verbalized as often to women as to men. And women haven’t asked about it either. Here are the areas that may be holding you back at any level:

  • How focused you are in business outcomes. (Both the outcomes of your own role and on how they impact the overall outcomes of the business.)
  • How closely you align your role in the organization with the business strategy. (Can you answer why the company is paying your salary? Hint: Think of the “why” you do what you do.  Not the “what” it is you do.)
  • How much financial acumen you have. (Do you know how to affect the company’s bottom line within your own role? At any level, it’s important to understand how what you do affects the financials of the overall company.)
Check out Susan Colantuono’s brilliant book on this topic!

Mastering these three aspects will make it easier for women climbing the ladder to get to the very top. If you are a manager, supervisor or an executive, you may need to start sharing this type of advice with your subordinates. Offer them coaching and training programs to fill-in any gaps in knowledge. If you are an individual contributor, this is your call to action. Don’t let one more day go by without seeking help in this area. Here is a great, very inexpensive Business Foundations online course, taught by Wharton Business School.

It's important to understand how your role supports the overall business strategy.

It’s important to understand how your role supports the overall business strategy.

As women, we already have many of the advantageous characteristics that make for a successful 21st Century executive. Make sure you don’t overlook the business, financial, and strategic abilities that are taken for granted at higher levels. You may not have thought about them much along the way and they may be the one thing that’s holding you back.






I find my passion in the most unexpected places

The story of a woman surgeon, woodworker & sailor

“I’m an orthopedic surgeon. I like building furniture and sailing. All fields usually dominated by men. I find my passion has never been limited by my gender. I’ve never looked at anything through that lens, until I noticed that others did.”

Dr. Margareta Berg was born in Gothenburg, Sweden where she also went to the University Medical School and obtained her MD in orthopedic surgery and a PhD degree. She has dedicated her life to her passions, which frequently found her in a male-dominated field. Her latest project is her biggest challenge yet and it could save many lives. This could be the story that changes your view on what you can do!

Dr. Margareta Berg, Swedish orthopedic surgeon who works part of her time in Laponia, an area of Sweden close to the Arctic Circle.

Dr. Margareta Berg, Swedish orthopedic surgeon who works part of her time in Laponia, an area of Sweden close to the Arctic Circle.

Read more about how to find your passion here.

When we first met, you told me, “An equal opportunity household helped me find my passion.” Could you expand?

When I grew up there was no difference between male and female chores at home. I still don’t know if this was a conscious choice made by my parents, or just a sign of their true nature. My elder brother liked cooking and baking at a very early age, and as a 7-year old I thrived in my father’s simple woodworking studio. One of my favorite hobbies was to carve wood with a very sharp knife, most often holding the piece against my stomach and directing the knife towards my own abdomen. Nobody would have guessed that these early exercises helped me find my passion for orthopedic surgery.

"I find my passion in many things: making furniture is one of them," Dr. Margareta Berg

“I find my passion in many things: making furniture is one of them,” Dr. Margareta Berg

In elementary school in the 1960s we had to choose between sewing or woodworking. As I had sewn my own slacks since I was ten and I liked carpentry, I chose woodworking. I was the only girl out of a thousand students in the class. Of course I was bullied for this choice, even by some woodworking teachers. But I didn’t care, and continued to find my passion in unusual places. I don’t know where this stubborness and strong-will came from. Maybe it was a combination of genes inhereted from my ancestors. I come from powerful men in the iron and steel production and I’m distantly related to the prominent Wallenberg family with ties in most industrial groups in Sweden.

When you were 14 years old you wanted to be a psychiatrist and as you graduated high school with top grades you were able to enter Med school right away. Then, after your “surgery semester” (or rotation) you changed your mind. How did you find your passion for orthopedics?

When the surgery-semester started, students were placed as medical candidates at different surgical wards. It started with three weeks in orthopedic surgery in August 1979. The very first day, not knowing how to scrub or how to behave in an operating room, our supervisor pointed at a friend and me and said, “Our first case is a hip replacement and you will be my first and second assistants.” We were both thrown into the OR and did as we were told. Now, remember that back in 1979 a hip replacement was a much longer procedure and not the kind of “assembly line” we know today. During those few weeks we assisted in all kinds of orthopedic surgery, even in children.

"I find my passion in orthopedic surgery after my rotation in orthopedics. I entered Med school to be a psychiatrist." Dr. Margareta Berg, founder of Surgicon Foundation

“I find my passion in orthopedic surgery after my rotation in orthopedics. I entered Med school to be a psychiatrist.” Dr. Margareta Berg, founder of Surgicon Foundation

After my three weeks rotation in orthopedics I did find my passion. So I changed my mind. I wouldn’t be a psychiatrist but an orthopedic surgeon.

Did you realize you were entering a male dominated field?

There was not a second of hesitation or any thoughts whatsoever about this profession being a “male” or “female” occupation. I just wanted to do something I liked, instead of spending my lifetime in a specialty with better working hours but for which I had no passion.

Dr. Margareta Berg, Founder Surgicon Foundation

Dr. Margareta Berg

The first time I realized that just being a female resident in orthopedic surgery was a provocation, was at age 30. It felt like I was being interviewed nearly every day at work when people asked me:

“How do you feel about being a woman in orthopedic surgery?” To which I’d usually answer:

“Well, how should I know? I don’t know how it feels to be a man in orthopedic surgery.”

So from the very beginning I entered the field completely free of any preconceptions. I just did my job, as everybody else. It took me several years to understand that it was something special to be a woman in this profession. The gender question was thrown at me after I had already been in this field for a while. Why couldn’t I be left in my innocent, equal world? The truth is that if I had known this reality from the start, it would certainly have given me second thoughts about this specialty.

Laughter is always a great way to navigate an awkward situation.

Laughter is always a great way to navigate an awkward situation.

You might enjoy reading “Women mentors: A group of surgeons like no other

Were you treated differently because you were a woman?

I was bullied, almost every day. But this just helped me develop a very useful method to defend myself: A very rapid, sharp and efficient sense of humor. I did not want to raise my voice for fear of being seen as a bitch, and I did not want to cry (as I never do) showing a useless weakness. When things got awkward, making everyone burst out in laughter was the best way to handle the situation.

This film director is another powerful woman in a male-dominated field. Don't miss her story!

You worked hard and yet you found time to continue to find your passions elsewhere. Tell us about that.

I spent days and nights at work, just to learn, doing a lot more hours than expected. I would usually go home at 7 or 8 PM, had a rest, and then returned to work until midnight.

"I find my passion in sailing. The silence helps me rest and unwind," Dr. Margareta Berg, founder Surgicon Foundation

“I find my passion in sailing. The silence helps me rest and unwind,” Dr. Margareta Berg, founder Surgicon Foundation

But I also needed to unwind. So, faithful to my habits, I did this wholeheartedly. During Med School I had saved all my student loans for eleven semesters by working on weekends to support myself. In 1980 I made a large withdrawal and bought a 26 ft sailing boat. (I had been sailing with my family since I was a child.) It took a week of being all alone on the boat to get back to normal sleep and to feel well rested. As the boat had no engine I developed the technique of entering and leaving harbors and desert creeks by sail during ten years. To some people, this was a strange thing for a single woman do to. And I find my passion for woodwork is still alive today in my furniture-making.

You shared with me that through your career one of your ongoing concerns had been the standarization of practical surgical training. How did that become your latest project and passion?

Well, trying to continue to find my passion in surgery led me to something I had been observing for years.

By 2010 I had spent 30 years in orthopedics. I had observed the lack of structure in surgical training and also I had experienced the differences in quality of surgical training and the potentially harmful consequences of this differences. So I decided that we needed to do something about it. I contacted key colleagues in my own network of surgeons across the world and organized a two-day brainstorming meeting in September 2010 in Howth, Ireland. Along with a group of leaders in surgery we decided to create the Surgicon Project.

What exactly is the Surgicon project and why is does it matter so much to you?

Surgicon is a worldwide network of leaders in surgery with a common interest in Surgical Training and Equalized International Certificates of Surgical Skills. There is a high incidence of surgical errors that are a direct result of the lack of a structured surgical training. In general, across the world, a surgical resident is placed with an attending surgeon who functions as a mentor for 4 or 5 years. After that period he/she becomes a “specialist.” Yet there is a lack of standardized curriculum during this learning period and different attending surgeons teach different things to their residents. Consequently, many preventable mistakes take place and even lives are needlessly lost.

The Surgicon Foundation is a worldwide network of leaders in surgery with a common interest in Surgical Training and Equalized International Certificates of Surgical Skills.

The Surgicon Foundation is a worldwide network of leaders in surgery with a common interest in Surgical Training and Equalized International Certificates of Surgical Skills.

A 2008 Swedish retrospective study of medical records showed 105,000 injuries caused by hospital care in one year of which nearly 50% were related to surgery. Of the total number there were 3,000 deaths, all in a population of 9 million inhabitants. Each injury resulted in a prolonged hospitalization of an average of 6 days.

Surgicon held two congresses in 2011 and 2013. The delegates called them “The Davos for Surgeons” due to the high concentration of world surgical leaders in the same geographical spot for several days. In 2012 the non-profit Surgicon Foundation was created with the goal of creating the needed curriculum to standardize surgical training and drastically reduce preventable mistakes and deaths. In 2013 Surgicon was invited to collaborate with the World Health Organization.

What do you need to move this passion forward?

Everytime I find my passion, I invest all my efforts, time, energy and money into it. This is no different. I’ve spent the last five years working overtime just to organize these two major medical congresses and I’m now involved in fundraising to create the curriculum. We are looking for corporations, non-profit organizations, and governments interested in taking this project to the next level. It will highly benefit patients and their families around the world. And it will help drastically reduce medical costs.

You can connect with Dr. Margareta Berg via:

Twitter: @SurgiconProject




Cross Cultural Mentoring: Mentoring 2.0!

Cross cultural mentoring relationships offer unique opportunities to broaden perspectives and reduce unconscious biases. Here’s how they work.

Given the rapid changes in workforce demographics, understanding the potential challenges and opportunities created by a cross cultural mentoring relationship has become as critical as finding a compatible mentor.

Try cross cultural mentoring to receive insights into your unconscious biases.

Try cross cultural mentoring to receive insights into your unconscious biases.

The Blackwell Handbook of Mentoring defines cross cultural mentoring as “relationships where mentors and protégés differ on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, socio-economic class, or other group memberships.” Note the definition goes beyond race and ethnicity to include other social factors that shape mentors and mentees values, beliefs, and behaviors. This broader, more comprehensive way to define cross-cultural mentoring is the core factor to identify the challenges and opportunities this new scenario presents.

Why is this important? Gaining a clear understanding of the dynamics of cross cultural mentoring provides a layer of information that could enrich the development and launch of mentoring programs and proactively address potential blind spots.

Challenges of Cross Cultural Mentoring 

Any type of mentoring relationship– from peer mentoring to a more formal set up (i.e. experienced and junior individuals)—will encounter the challenges of starting a new relationship. It takes time to develop and cultivate trust. Interactions between mentors and mentees are influenced by underlying biases, assumptions, and beliefs. When you add the element of culture to the mentoring experience, unforeseen challenges could emerge. Two challenges come to mind:

  • If you are looking for an honest cross cultural mentoring relationship, you definitely have to go beyond the food. But going out for a bite is a great way to get the conversation going!

    If you are looking for an honest cross cultural mentoring relationship, you definitely have to go beyond the food. But going out for a bite is a great way to get the conversation going!

    Biases and Assumptions. Research shows that every single individual has unconscious biases. The ability to be biased allows individuals to discern information and make decisions. Biases could jeopardize a cross cultural mentoring relationship when either mentor or mentee make wrong assumptions about each other because of their biases. For example, a mentee could assume that her mentor—because he is older—is less experienced and tech-savvy. A mentor could assume that her mentee is unfamiliar with American popular culture because she was born outside the U.S. Both circumstances could lead to condescending behaviors—also known as micro aggressions. Behaviors based on unfounded biases can take many forms. A senior leader in the financial services industry said when asked about her current mentee, “I don’t see her as Indian because she has no accent.”

  • Differences in values, beliefs and expectations. Historically, mentoring programs have relied on matching pairs who are as similar as possible. The logic was that people who are alike (i.e. same race, gender, ethnicity, etc.) would have a higher degree of fit and compatibility. Once pairs are matched, the focus shifts to setting expectations and goals. A mentoring pair that is cross cultural would benefit from taking a step back and learning what expectations and goals look like to each other individually. For example, an expectation is to have an open door policy. The mentee, however, places a high value on formal authority and believes that rank trumps any other directive. Her expectation is that the mentor will initiate communication despite the open door expectation. This could lead to frustration and create an unnecessary distraction if not addressed proactively.

Opportunities of Cross Cultural Mentoring

Ready to move to the next level of your career? Experience what it means to be supported by thousands of professionals like yourself!

Ready to move to the next level of your career? Experience what it means to be supported by thousands of professionals like yourself!

Despite potential challenges presented by a cross cultural mentoring relationship, there are opportunities to consider:

  • Perspective and mindset tune up. Engaging in a cross cultural mentoring relationship provides a rare opportunity to broaden perspectives and mindsets for both parties. The mentee—from the previous example–who identifies herself as Indian but has no accent could leverage that exchange to discuss with her mentor that the lack of accent does not determine her cultural affiliation. The mentor, in turn, has the opportunity to become aware of this bias of assigning an American identity to those with no accent.
  • Innovation partnership. When two people with different backgrounds are invested in a mentoring program, the benefits of mutual mentoring become clear. What a better chance to brainstorm on new ideas than with a trusted thinking partner. Building on the trust cultivated through comparing and contrasting their beliefs and assumptions, mentors and mentees could strengthen their bond by directing their conversations to topics beyond career advancement and office politics. They could consult each other on business issues. Their different perspectives become a potential asset to fuel out-of-the box solutions.

Engaging in an effective cross cultural mentoring experience (HBR: Race Matters) goes beyond going out for mojitos or Thai food. Cross-cultural mentoring not only offers the opportunity to learn about others perspectives and expand your own. It also helps mentors and mentees become more agile in their thinking as decision makers and leaders.

5 Tips for Dealing with Emotional Outbursts at Work

Supporting someone’s ambitions when they have emotional outbursts at work is a challenge. But that’s exactly the time when you get to show your leadership.

Dealing with emotional outbursts at work is never easy. I give you that. But it’s a chance to show your leadership chops. Will you put the good of the team above your own ego or will you give into your own need to establish your authority?

Parody of The Scream by artist Meowza

Parody of The Scream by artist Meowza

Emotional outbursts have a way of arising in the least practical moments. Naturally, when people are most stressed over important deadlines or key decisions or situations, there’s a tendency for emotions to flare up. Or for any little thing to become the straw that breaks the camel’s back, which results in an unpleasant emotional outburst.

I recently finished a mayor project, a milestone in my career. A day 20 years in the making, let alone the several weeks leading to the celebration for which I had invested lots of preparation and energy. The day was here and everything was going smoothly. Then suddenly, one of my team members confronted me with the fact that I was not treating her the way she expected to be treated. She was having an emotional breakdown over this. It stopped me in my tracks. Really? At the very moment when I was celebrating a major achievement I had to deal with an emotional outburst? Well, that’s exactly how it usually goes, isn’t it? When you least need it… But then again, what is the right time for emotional outbursts in the workplace?

Here’s a post on Recognizing a Hostile Work Environment you might like.
Resolving conflict inspirational quote - Listening, honestly listening, is a critical piece of resolving conflict

How good a listener are you?

I realized immediately that to deal with my own stress that day I had adopted a “shorthand” style of communication that came across as imperative. I trusted that my colleague would be able to decode the fact that this was a temporary style change due to the demanding circumstances I was facing. (My bad, because we didn’t know each other that well yet.) I apologized right away. But she wouldn’t stop.

I could see that something else was at play with her. Regardless of what her perception was of how I treated her, I’m also aware that nothing I did deserved such an overreaction. I may have been short. Never abusive. And nothing that would justify such an emotional outburst. Nothing that couldn’t have waited a couple of hours to get resolved.

5 tips for dealing with emotional outbursts in your organization

This topic is particularly relevant when managing Latinos and other ethnicities who are known to have a more passionate communication style. At times that passion may come across as an emotional outburst when it’s only an expression of what they care about. And the truth is that you don’t want to eliminate passion from the workplace because it is what moves people and in the end, what makes it an interesting place to work. But there’s a difference between expressing your emotions and having an emotional outburst. So your role is to help people learn to modulate their emotional temperature to be more effective communicators.

These are 5 of the actions that have served me well whenever confronted by emotional outbursts in a professional setting.


Yup, that’s my first suggestion. Breathe and center yourself. Be present. Let go of whatever else is going on and focus on the here and now. On this person in front of you (or on the phone) who, if not dealt with in an adequate fashion, might turn a bad situation into a much worse one. After you focus for a moment you might decide this is not your biggest problem right now, and that’s fine. But you need to take a couple of breaths to decide that.

2Give people the benefit of the doubt

Head of a Woman by Pablo Picasso at the Met

Allowing the expression of emotions in the workplace is important. It’s emotional outbursts that we must learn to control.

All of us, particularly women, are subject to so many pressures from so many fronts all the time that there are likely many aspects of their lives you ignore. We expect people to leave their personal problems at the door but if people did that, you’d be working with robots. So you have to take individuals as a whole. And again, emotions are good indicators of what people care about. We are only talking about their most extreme expression. That’s why my next suggestion is that when someone behaves inappropriately you give them the benefit of the doubt at least once.

Faced with emotional outbursts or overreactions, stop for a second and entertain the possibility that there might be something else at play that has nothing to do with you. Not that this gives people a pass to have an emotional flare up at work but it may help you better understand their circumstances and be more lenient. You still will need to have a conversation about modulating emotional temperature and not taking things so personally. But it will help you put away your own feelings and temptation to overreact yourself.

3Don’t add fuel to the fire.

Emotions quote by Maya Angelou - People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel

When an emotional outburst makes someone feel horrible, they will remember and it will affect your professional future.

Listening, honestly listening, is always a critical piece of resolving conflicts. And for that to happen, the person who is having the emotional outburst needs to feel she’s not being ignored. At this point, avoid debating, contradicting or asking for explanations. Admit that you hear what they are saying and that this is not the right time to discuss the topic any further. Make sure the person understands this is not a delay tactic but a commitment to address the issue at a more appropriate time. Then, follow through.

4Don’t draw lines in the sand.

When someone is pushing your buttons at the wrong time it obviously requires a good amount of self-control to avoid the need to give ultimatums and draw lines in the sand. Once again, a trait shared by strong leaders and which reveals solid executive presence in those aspiring to be leaders. So exercise self-control for a better outcome.

5Have the conversation

Set up the meeting to have the conversation you promised them and calmly ask the person to reflect on what happened that day. Let them come to the realization that regardless of who was right or wrong, there is no room for emotional outbursts at work. This is a chance for them to identify their own triggers and find ways to better manage stress and deal with conflicts to avoid future emotional outbursts.

Overcoming emotional outbursts quote - This too shall pass... so take a deep breath

Leaders have a chance to show their skills when they deal well with emotional outbursts

During this conversation, you might want to share some of the consequences of emotional outbursts in a professional setting:

  • Erosion of professional reputation
  • Perception that she lacks self control, therefore executive presence and potential loss of future opportunities
  • Damage to one’s personal brand
  • Damage to team morale
  • Don’t miss this HBR wonderful piece on emotional outbursts!

Since the day of the emotional outburst my colleague has produced great work for me. It was a learning occasion for both of us but it has undoubtedly planted red flags in my mind in regards to assigning her future high stakes projects. And this is the message you must strive to convey to women in your team. When you give into the heat of the moment and have an emotional outburst at work, you impacting your career long term. So think twice before you jump off the deep end.