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Reflect and Diminish and When to Yell at Subordinates, pages 287-293

Part Two: Leadership Tactics, 4. Communication J. Reflect and Diminish, K. When To Yell At Subordinates (pages 287-293)


J. Reflect and Diminish

A successful leader does not let emotions drive decision-making. While leaders are not bereft of emotions, they need to be controlled. However, there are certain occasions when emotions can be used to make a point or make a connection with someone. For example, a subordinate yells at the leader about something that’s negatively affecting them. The leader has two choices. First, they could tell the subordinate to calm down and lower their voice. This approach typically results in the opposite of what was intended as the subordinate grows increasingly agitated because they feel they are not being heard. The second is to reflect and diminish. Reflect the emotion that you are seeing and then follow up by diminishing them to a more regulated level. Using the above example the leader would immediately respond using a raised voice acknowledging the subordinate's issue. Then in a lower controlled voice offer to help solve the issue. This technique both validates the subordinate and settles down the situation to start to begin to problem solve the issue. This technique is not limited to emotionally charged situations. It's also effective with a wide range of emotions including sad, humorous, envious, etc.


The technique that I would use in this type of situation would to initially spend the time to deescalate the situation. If I had a subordinate so worked up emotionally that they felt the need to yell at me, I know that starting to solve the issue can’t begin until my subordinate is calmed down. I would typically use the 2:1 ratio ( two ears and one mouth). I would ensure to listen twice as long as I talked. Additionally, I would not immediately enter “fix-it” mode. But rather I would listen long enough so that my subordinate had calmed down and they felt I understood how they felt. Unfortunately, this would typically take quite a bit of time which there is not a lot of free time in education. Moving forward, I will attempt to utilize Reflect and Diminish as it seems to get the same result but in a more timely manner. This technique will be going in my leadership toolbox.


K. When To Yell At Subordinates

There is almost no good time to yell at subordinates. However, the situation might call for yelling if the environment is loud and the only way to communicate is with a raised voice. “Such situations are about volume, not emotion.” Yelling due to emotion is a sign of weak leadership and your subordinates will begin to imitate that behavior. However, there are instances when yelling can be used strategically. If you have a subordinate that is breaking rules, a method for dealing with that is to systematically raise your voice each time a rule is broken. This is a technique to garner attention, not to express emotion, in the hope that the subordinate stops breaking rules. If you have to yell, make it quick and always do it in private.


As a father of a son and two daughters, this is a method I do implore. I am not a yeller. I find it inefficient as you can only yell so often until you stopped being heard. I know my method is effective when my daughters tell me that they knew I meant something because I raised my voice. The important point is to not yell because you are emotional but rather use it as a tool to achieve what your desire. For a dad, that typically is peace and quiet! Ironically, sometimes yelling can bring about calm.

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