How Do You Respond in Heated Situations?

Are You a Thermostat or Thermometer...

When you are in heated situations, you have many choices of how you respond. I have told my daughters a few times you have one pail of water in one hand and one pail of gas in the other. It is you’re your choice which one you are going to throw on the situation. I always like that visual because it boils down to choosing to respond and not reacting. As leaders of households, businesses, community circles, we have need to think of ourselves as a thermostat or a thermometer.

When in a position of influence – mom, dad, friend, manager, boss, you have the option to be a thermostat or a thermometer.

A thermometer reflects the temperature of the environment. It simply reacts to what’s happening around it. If the temperature is hot, it tells you so. If it’s cold, the thermometer reflects that reality as well. It’s a dumb instrument in the sense it doesn’t contain intelligent, multipurpose functionality. It has one purpose and one purpose only. A thermostat, on the other hand, regulates the environment. It sets the desired temperature of the room/household and actively works to maintain it within a given range. If the temperature rises above the goal, the thermostat signals the air conditioner to crank up and cool the room down. If the temperature falls below the goal, the thermostat causes the heater to turn on in order to warm the room up. The thermostat is intelligent in the sense it’s always monitoring the environment, and if the temperature gets too hot or cold, it decides what to do to correct the situation.

Thermometer leaders react to their surroundings. When the tension gets high and people are on edge, these leaders are often seen losing their cool. They become irritable, harsh, demanding, critical, impatient, and maybe even lose their temper and yell or curse. Thermometer leadership doesn’t inspire trust and commitment with people, it erodes it.

Thermostat leaders, however, constantly have a pulse on the morale, productivity, stress level, and environmental conditions of their team. When the temperature gets hot because the team is under pressure of a heavy workload, resources are scarce, or pending deadlines are causing stress, they cool things off by acting as the calming influence for their team or family.

Action Items

  • Determine if you are a Thermostat or Thermometer.
  • Things to consider changing:
    • Take time to listen and NOT respond immediately.
    • Mix in fun as you helping others through pressure situations.
    • When things are slow, consider reminding those around you of the vision, goals, and purpose.
    • Continually build trust – with words and actions.

When times get wild and crazy, people want to see their leaders (both work and home) react with calm, focused