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In coaching , we get the coachee thinking of specific incidents and talking about specific feelings to understand how they feel and why they feel the way they do. However, as we experience so many feelings all through the day, it is not practical or even desirable to attempt to capture them all.

Yet, it is easier to analyze specific situations which have caused the coachee frustration. Have coachees record or recall incidents when they felt frustrated, hurt, angry or down at work. Get them to relate what actually happened and help them see possible causes.

Let me illustrate with an example. Sheela was very upset one evening when she caught at the door as she was leaving for the day. She had a social engagement she was looking forward to and was happy that she could make it on time. The call from one of her team members forced her to go back to work, cancel her personal plans and attend to the problem. Hours later she was still angry and irritable.

Ina coaching session, I got her thinking about the root cause of the problem. She understood that being called just as she was leaving for the day, and missing her social outing were outcomes of a more basic problem. Her team members were simply not equipped to deal with such issues. There was no one else other than her in the team who could resolve such issues. In other words, the priority was in developing someone with adequate skills to deal with such issues. Until she did so, such incidents would only be expected to recur.

It doesn’t take too much time and is well worth the effort. Ask yourself ” What bugs me”? There is a cause for each outburst of anger or frustration. Often we miss the effect for the cause. In Sheela’s example, there is no point in her blaming the team member for spoiling her program for the evening. That was the effect. The cause is their inability to handle anything beyond the routine.

You can improve -if you know where you have to improve. Listing such incidents and analyzing them gives us useful insight into causes of anger and frustration- which then can be addressed.

So the next time, you lose your cool or feel utterly frustrated, put down your thoughts and feelings. Understand what has caused that frustration, not merely why you are frustrated.

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This is the 84 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.