How can you find compassion when frustrations are boiling over?

For this article on frustrations and compassion by Jo Ilfeld, Executive Leadership Coach, the image shows a frustrated woman with her hands on her head.

How do you find compassion the next your team leader, colleague or manager snaps at you?

I was traveling with a good friend from college recently and at one point in the day, she started to ask me some questions and I snapped at her. I was in the middle of work emails, slightly distracted, and when I snapped at her and she got upset. Was it ok for me to snap at her?  No. It was completely out of line.
But my reaction to her getting upset got me thinking.

Part of me thought, “Oh, she’s totally overreacting.” 

But the other part of me thought, “Oh, she did not deserve to be snapped at.”  I was in my own emotional space and stressed about the email I was looking at but that should not have carried over into my reaction to her asking me a question. 

We are all carrying the burden of so much stress after two long years of the pandemic, juggling work, deadlines, life, family, fear, worry for loved ones who are sick or vulnerable to getting sick, the list goes on. 

So the next time a work colleague, direct report, team leader, or manager snaps at you, here’s what I think you should do. 

1. Find your empathy or compassion for them because it’s likely that they have a lot more going on than you know about.  

2. Set a boundary, just like my friend did. Find another time, not right in the moment, but when things are calmer. Then explain to that person how you felt when they snapped at you and tell them that it’s important to talk in calm tones, even when there are stressful events going on. 

Watch the video for more on how to approach a situation like this.

Read more on empathy, compassion, and patience.

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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