Thursday, August 18, 2005

Emotional Ketchup Burst

So I snapped yesterday at a meeting with my customer. During a heated exchange, I said, "The problem is that I can't reconcile what you tell me to do and reality." Umm. Not a good thing to say. I did manage to turn the conversation around when they were joking about unauthorized use of funds and I said, "I'm too pretty for prison." Which is so true. Unless I'm going to the same prison as Jack Abramoff. He's so dreamy.

Anyways, after the meeting the rest of my team was just astounded that I had snapped. The frustration level is very high and I'm not handling it well. And I'm starting to get to the point where I don't care who knows it. Which I know is bad.

As a leader, when things are going bad, you need to appear positive, strong, supportive. Regardless of your setting. So me walking around the office scowling at the insanity or unreasonableness of my custeromer is not the image I need to project. And I know that. But who long do you wear this mask. And when can I take the mask off and just let my frustrations out?

I'm not a vulcan. I do have emotions. And again I do think a good leader needs to have a sense of calm and serentity around him, but not be catatonic. When there's a crisis, you need to be engage and active, but not crazy. When there's a personal problem, you need to be empathetic and sympathetic, not board stiff. So why isn't it okay to sometimes express those emotions? Isn't bottling up those emotions bad.

In his book, Generation X, Douglas Coupland called it the "Emotional Ketchup Burst." It's "The bottling up of opinions and emotions inside oneself so that they explosively burst forth at at once, shocking and confusing employers and friends-most of whom thought things were fine."

The next time, I'm afraid there's going to be ketchup everywhere.


At 6:53 PM, Blogger d.K. said...

I don't think it's possible to suppress all that frustration for an indefinite period of time. I'm normally a very calm, steady, level person, and I can relate completely to what you said. When I do hit that point, it is like a "ketchup burst" that does surprise friends and colleagues as well. It doesn't happen very often, but we're only human.
I agree with what you say about good leadership, but I think when the "bursts" are few and far between, as opposed to the "screamers" I'm sure you and I are both familiar with since the military has more than it's share of those, everyone understands. No bridges are burned. In fact, from reading your blog, you seem to have a calmness that exceeds what most of us could handle.
P.S. I have "Priscilla" stored on my DVR and never get tired of it. LOL


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