Reflect and Diminish

Reflect and Diminish is a technique to deescalate situations where emotions run hot, and where decision making ability is compromised.

Use Empathy to de-escalate hot situations

Reflect and Diminish is a technique to deescalate situations where emotions run hot, and where decision making ability is compromised. Letting emotions drive decisions is a mistake, but this does not mean leaders should be devoid of emotions.

In situations where someone is overly emotional, it is important to both empathize with the person but to also reduce the emotion to a more controlled level so that you can focus on solving the problem at hand.

Reflect and Diminish: Reflect the emotions you are seeing but diminish them to a more controlled level.

When a teammate comes in fuming and screaming about the failure of the supply department to deliver materials on time, instead of telling them to calm down, raise your voice a little to reflect the anger, but diminish the emotion so it isn’t as strong as theirs.

It might end up sounding something like, “You’ve got to be kidding! How late are they with the delivery?”

With that statement, and the emotions reflected, you are now on your teammate’s side. “Two days!” your team mate replies, still mad, but with less venom.

Now you can settle down a little bit more. “Two days is way too long. We need to fix that permanently. But we also need to do something to fix the predicament that you’re in. How can I help you make that happen?”

Within this brief exchange, the situation has settled down, and you and your teammate can start to solve the actual problem at hand.

This technique works with just about any emotion. If someone is sad, reflect but diminish that sadness. If someone is envious, mirror a bit of envy before responding. Even when someone thinks a comment or situation is funny and you don’t, telling them to tighten it up and be serious is going to make them think you don’t have a sense of humour. Instead, smile and maybe chuckle, and then explain why you both need to take things a little more seriously. Because your teammate sees you have a sense of humour, and because you connect with them, they are much more likely to listen to you.

This technique works up and down the chain of command. Don’t isolate yourself emotionally from your team members. Instead foster shared emotions – reflect their emotions but diminish them so they de-escalate, and so you can focus on solving the problem at hand.

The above is an excerpt from the book “Leadership Strategy and Tactics
by Jocko Willink

Put Junior People in Charge to Build High-Level Team Players

Train your teams by putting junior people in charge so they become more experienced and knowledgeable.

The best way to transfer knowledge and to build experience in a new team member is to put them in a leadership position. Put them in a position where they must make decisions and where they can make mistakes.

Ideally they are put in charge of a project that is outside of their comfort zone (but not excessively so). It should be challenging, but they should still ultimately succeed. You should continue to be there for support and instruction when necessary.

Putting junior people in charge makes them better. It makes them understand what is going on way above their pay grades. It makes them understand how their jobs impact higher level business goals, and is one of the best ways to develop team members.

  • Put them in charge
  • Give them responsibilities
  • Train them by their mistakes.

Additional Reading

12 Rules for New Leaders

Once you have been selected as a leader, it is time to lead. What is the best way to do this? Like many things, starting off on the right foot is simple, but not easy. Here are some fundamental rules from former Navy Seal Jocko Willink to keep in mind as you take command.

by Jocko Willink

  1. Be humble. It is an honour to be in a leadership position. Your team is counting on your to make the right decisions.
  2. Don’t act like you know everything. You don’t. The team knows that. Ask smart questions.
  3. Listen. Ask for advice and heed it.
  4. Treat people with respect. Regardless of rank, everyone is a human being and plays an important role in the team. Treat them that way. Take care of your people and they will take care of you.
  5. Take ownership of failures and mistakes.
  6. Pass credit for success up and down the chain.
  7. Work hard. As the leader, you should be working harder than anyone else on the team. No job is beneath you.
  8. Have integrity. Do what you say; say what you do. Don’t lie up or down the chain of command.
  9. Be balanced. Extreme actions and opinions are usually not good.
  10. Be decisive. When it is time to make a decision, make one.
  11. Build relationships. That is your main goal as a leader. A team is a group of people who have relationships and trust one another. Otherwise, it is just a disconnected, incoherent cluster of people.
  12. Get the job done. This is the purpose of a leader — to lead a team in accomplishing a mission. If you don’t accomplish the mission, you fail as a leader. Performance counts.

These are straightforward rules. They make sense on paper, but they can be hard to remember and implement in a leadership environment. Review them often. Look at them in the morning, before meetings, and when you are about to make things happen.

excerpt from Leadership, Strategy and Tactics
by Jocko Willink

retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer
#1 New York Times bestselling author
CEO Echelon Front