I love what I’m doing, I can actually be pretty passionate about things, and if I really believe in something my first instinct would be to let others know how this can make their lives, jobs, projects – you name it – better. But if you ask people I have worked with over the years, I guess they would characterize me as quite calm and diplomatic.
So how does these traits go along? In the beginning of my career I could burst out with things every now and then. Luckily no irreversible mistakes were made, but occasionally it was a bumpy ride. Now, even though my face might turn red, verbal and written outbursts are far less frequent – actually almost completely absent. I’m still passionate about things, but the difference is that now I have a safety valve.
My safety valve is a trusted person I can share my thoughts and ideas with. Even more important, I can share my frustrations openly with this person. When heated I use my safety valve to read through e-mails and documents before I fire off something I will later regret. The safety valve is most likely sitting somewhere nearby, and sometimes, depending on the situation, several people can act as my safety valve – maybe covering different areas.
Even though I have my safety valve right next to me, I always reflect a few seconds, on my own, before sharing my frustrations. I work with different customers and need to take confidentiality issues into consideration, so it’s not a given that everything can be shared with everyone. As the relationship with my safety valve develops there is room for discussing almost everything. To build a safety valve relationship, get comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas, before moving on to frustrations.
One last thing, the safety valve system works better if it’s bidirectional, so make sure both get the opportunity to vent. Call it bidirectional coaching, if you like.
Do you have a safety valve?