Follow this 1 Simple Rule & Prevent Sooo Many Headaches (HR will love you too)

Follow this 1 Simple Rule & Prevent Sooo Many Headaches (HR will love you too)

My one-and-only, blindly followed, steadfast, non-negotiable, ‘if I only do this one thing I’ve won the day’ rule: The 24 hour rule.


The 24 hour rule is this: when you are really ticked at someone (I’m talking your voice is 3 pitches higher, you are speaking in tongues, you are completely flabbergasted) over whatever the situation, you shut your trap for 24 hours.

Do not try to rectify, correct, point out, discipline, or even speak with that person while you are hot, amped, and in this high of an emotionally charged state. I cannot stress how strongly you need to avoid the temptation to speak your mind. It will go bad for you. Well, maybe not always bad per se…but it will never, never, never go how you want it to. The adrenaline, whether it be disappointment that is concealed momentarily by anger, will cloud judgement and get in the way of controlling what comes out of your mouth, resulting in very strong sentiments hurled at your target. This is not good in any situation, but when it involves an employee the damage is so hard to undo.


Short on Time? Watch my 3 minute video on Why the 24 Hour Rule serves you well as a leader!


Because crazy never looks good on any of us. And when someone has got us to the point where we are completely astonished at how [insert disappointment] someone could be, you are not going to be able to articulate what you would like at the time. Emotion gets in the way of rational thinking and judgement. It just does. What wins instead is the understandable (yet ultimately backfiring) desire to let that person know how wrong they were in their behavior. It is one of the worst times ever for you to be prove you're right. It will come across as tyrannical and mean, lacking any respect and self-control. Yeah, it seriously takes its toll, the situation is a complete and total loss…AND you instantly lose a lot of ground with EVERYONE. 

We usually reserve these type of arguments with our family loved ones (I don’t just say loved ones because I believe we have loved ones at work too), our spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents…the ones that signed up for crazy whether they like it or not.

But your loved ones at work will not tolerate it, nor should they be expected to.

Yes, we find that we may get very upset when we see our staff do things and we know they know better. And while displays of emotion can do amazing things, such as: 

  • Be inspirational: motivational speech…wonderful, usually inspires action

  • Provoke thought: shine light on perspective and cultivate thinking

  • Pull them towards understanding: the ability to show the importance of something when they see behind the reason it exists

None of that will come across if you react here instead of respond. 

Like all things leadership, the responsibility of awareness falls squarely on your shoulders.

Being composed to have a frank discussion about expectations, obligations, integrity, execution, consequences, and future decisions are all part of teaching your team how to learn from mistakes. These conversations are crucial in working together successfully. You will not be able to satisfy any of that when your pulse is racing because they just dropped the ball in some extra-spectacular fashion.

"When wound up, your brain needs a solution that is simple to follow and the results are still powerful. The 24hr rule satisfies both."

"When wound up, your brain needs a solution that is simple to follow and the results are still powerful. The 24hr rule satisfies both."

This is where the 24 hour rule always saved me. I literally blindly follow it. The time I did not, the person quit two days later.

No exceptions, no debate: shut up and wait. Wonderfully, the simplicity is also what allows it to work. When wound up, your brains needs a solution that is simple to follow and the results are still powerful. This rule satisfies both.

It has also always allowed me the grace to show up on my terms when I obeyed the 24 hour rule. Better yet, I avoid causing someone I cared for to be hurt. No matter how upset I had been in the moment, later that night I would be giddy with the fact that I hadn’t gone off on that person like I wanted to. I can now professionally address the issue and resolve it like a #boss. That is priceless and will allow you to whistle your way through the halls.

Ok, you didn’t listen to me…now what?

I’ve been there too. The other reason I know this rule works so well? I’ve paid the price when I haven’t listened to my own rule.

We’re human, it happens to the best of us. But, let me tell you…you'd better have enough well-earned stock with your team that they will be willing to forgive your act of indiscretion. Because for them, it’s like seeing something horrific, yet they can't look away. They understand, but it still doesn’t feel right. Be very prepared to fix it. That entails speaking with each and every person who is dealing with the fallout you created. And although they do understand where you are coming from, that doesn’t mean you skirt the issue...openly admit you handled it wrongly and apologize. Nip it in the bud, you will save face and everyone will face the issue with you. The last thing you want is it to be talked about all water cooler style, hanging in the air for days on end. 

Last note of caution on not following this rule: there will be a limited number of times you can break this pact and still have people want to work for you. As a leader, you are held to much higher standards when it comes to these situations, keep faltering and you will not have a team that is committed to standing up for you very much longer. No one wants to feel like you are a firing squad. Taking the time to cool off allows you to see things in a different light, to gain perspective.

Now get out there and don’t say a word! Well…at least not until tomorrow.