When faced with professional failures, experts advise against burning bridges but instead finding solutions
Updated: December 4, 2017
It’s their equivalent of “Failure Friday.”
The Democratic Party was dealt a severe setback last week when the Senate narrowly passed a bill that slashed taxes, at least temporarily, for most Americans. Liberals claim that the bill, arguably the most far-reaching rewrite of the tax code since the Reagan administration, was fiscally irresponsible and skewed to the rich. President Donald Trump and his Republican congressional allies say that the bill is key to his plan to make the American economy great again.
While numerous Democrats took to social media to lament the bill, which now goes into conference with the House, and slam their colleagues across the aisle, Trump’s longtime bête noire took a different tack. Hillary Clinton, who the President defeated in the 2016 electoral college, wrote on Twitter that there was a silver lining for progressives. “This tax bill is only going to get worse as people learn more about it,” she wrote. “There are 6 GOP Senators that have to run on it & 2 open seats in 2018. We all need to get to work.” (Most experts say it would take almost every card falling right for the Democrats to win control of the Senate next November.)
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do after a loss. Not this time.
This tax bill is only going to get worse as people learn more about it. There are 6 GOP Senators that have to run on it & 2 open seats in 2018. We all need to get to work.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 2, 2017
When it comes to dealing with failures, experts say it makes sense to look to the future rather than ruminate on what’s already happened. “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.”
This story was updated on December 4, 2017 with news of the Senate’s passage of the 2017 tax bill.
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