As a soccer official, one of the greatest challenges is managing people when emotions get involved. Frustrated coaches and players often mean the officials have to work harder to keep the game in control.
It is because of these emotional moments, that I have learned the importance of acknowledgment.
Often things happen that don't require the whistle to be blown. There is contact against players, a small amount of time-wasting, or some kind of tactical play. Some of these things happen without rising to the level of an infraction, yet may not exactly be completely fair play. For most of these types of infractions, the players would not even want them called because the game would never gain any flow. Yet, when opponents sense this slight unfairness, frustration can build and behaviors can quickly become irresponsible.
One of the most effective ways to manage these situations is simply by acknowledging them. If players and coaches know that I know, they are less frustrated. More than anything, they want to know that I am aware of and understand what is happening on the field.
Leadership in the workplace is no different in this regard. There are commonly issues that arise between coworkers, as a result of policies, or for endless reasons. But, often the issue isn't big enough to take official action. Yet, those we are leading seem to expect something from us.
One of the greatest things we can give them in these moments is acknowledgment. They want to know that you are aware of the situation. While things may not change, you will build trust simply by expressing that you are able to understand what is taking place from their perspective.