When faced with professional failures, experts advise against burning bridges but instead finding solutions
It’s already being called Failure Friday.
President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders were dealt a severe setback early this morning when the so-called “skinny repeal” of Obamacare failed by the narrowest margin possible in the United States Senate. The decisive vote against repeal was dramatically cast by GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the maverick war hero recently diagnosed with brain cancer and a longtime thorn in Trump’s side.
The president reacted the way he knows best: on Twitter. He slammed Senate Democrats and the three Republicans who opposed the bill—McCain, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine—and promised to let the Affordable Care Act fail. Trump had also previously denigrated McCain’s military service and pressured Murkowski.
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
But management experts say that you should never threaten your co-workers, even if they’ve put a damper on your plans. “The blame game is the worst of all possible ways to handle setbacks,” says Eden Abrahams, a New York executive coach. “It makes you look like a poor loser and ineffective because it highlights that you probably didn’t do the right kind of foundation laying up front.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 28, 2017
This is especially the case if, as with the President and the Senate, you need to work with these individuals again. Going about “in a vitriolic way is really toxic,” says Abrahams, managing partner at Clear Path Executive Coaching. “Think about how you’d feel is someone publicly vilifies you. Would you want to work with them again?”
That said, there may be occasions when it’s appropriate to confront a colleague. For instance, if a co-worker has agreed to support you in something, but the project fell apart from they didn’t keep up their end of the bargain. “The best strategy is to just say you want to understand” why something failed and learn “how to move things forward so they benefit all of us,” says Roy Cohen, author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “Ask for feedback instead of putting your colleagues on the defensive, because you may throw the baby out with the bathwater” by upsetting them, he adds.
If that fails, you may then want to reach out to your boss and explain politely why you faced the setback. But Cohen recommends copying in the offending colleague in your emails, so that you don’t appear to be a backstabber. “You don’t want to look like you’re lacking in transparency,” he says.
“In a high functioning corporate or family environment where people have different wants and needs, good leaders take time to know what these things are,” says Abrahams. “Divorce the person from the decision. This is not about you or me, it’s about getting to the best solution.”
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