Volatility Does Not Earn Credibility

Years ago, I had a boss who was emotionally unstable. He was quick to anger and got annoyed easily. He would often get upset about the smallest details. He was prone to irritation and annoyance.

He was well educated, talented, and bright, and when he was in a good mood, you couldn’t meet a nicer person.

But you never knew which temperament he would bring to work.

For a while, most of the team could tolerate his erratic personality, and I was too immature and scared to talk to him about the impact he was having on me.

It came to a head in a financial crisis. When the non-profit’s funding was in jeopardy, he was so stressed that we lost all confidence in him and most quit.

A true test of character – one of the cornerstones of credibility – is composure: poise under pressure. A self-confident manner provides steadiness and stability to those around you.

Three suggested strategies for gaining composure:

1. Acknowledge that losing your temper is never appropriate. It is not impressive or tough. It’s a mistake. It’s weakness, not strength. If you lose your temper once, I’ll be uncertain when you’ll lose it next. Emotional volatility is not only inappropriate, it erodes credibility and trust.

2. Recognize volatility within you. This can be tricky because anxiety, instability, and a quickness to anger can be so familiar we don’t see its effect on others. Be sure to get regular feedback from the people in your life.

3. Get some coaching. Learning to develop composure without shutting off emotions requires a level of precision and skill that rarely can be done alone.