Are you walking away from conversations or meetings with that feeling of regret, that once again you’ve lost your cool?
It can happen to any of us, no matter where we happen to sit on the professional totem pole. We know it’s not attractive, nor is it graceful or effective, but somehow it happens and it can leave us, and those present, with a sense of uneasiness.
There are a zillion possible reasons for being unusually irritable. Sometimes, external forces are at play behind the scenes: poor health, mental fatigue, family issues, physical exhaustion, or financial concerns. Sometimes though, we can point the finger at our ‘inner force’ being the culprit and by that I mean the quality of our mind-set or thinking. That inner voice that I call my evil-twin that is so darn sensitive to perceived competition, to not being in control, to not being ‘right’, or just plain enjoys being contrary. Whatever the cause, if you’re willing to do a little homework before your next work engagement, you can transform your snappy snarl into a productive purr.
Here are 5 tips for achieving this:
Take Personal Responsibility
It’s just so easy for us to point the finger …”I wouldn’t get so upset, if he’d just stop being so…”. If we think about it, blaming someone else, actually hands that person a level of control. The most powerful thing we can do is remind ourselves that ‘others’ are not responsible for the way we feel, what we say or what we do or don’t do — we are. The way we think, the filter through which we view our world, is totally responsible for our experience of it. This is exciting news, because it means that one easy way to manage our irritability and defensiveness is to shift our thinking, which brings me to the next tip.
Choose to RESPOND not to POUNCE
In the heat of the moment it’s normal for us to feel triggered into a defensive state of anger, frustration, hurt, embarrassment, or indignation, but it’s how we choose to manage these emotions on the spot, that counts. Try ‘flicking the switch’ from the negative emotion you’re experiencing to one that is more positive and constructive. Experiment with becoming ‘curious’ or ‘understanding’ instead. Try focusing on what the other person needs from the interaction (regardless of their behaviour) and respond accordingly from a powerful place of calm and control. Faking it, till you make it counts by the way!
Aim for Win-Win
Often when we lose our temper its because things aren’t going our way and we see ourselves moving into defence-mode. These emotional moments are hugely complex because there are so many variables involved: the issue, situation, environment, feelings, what’s being said, who’s saying it, how it’s being said, as well as what we choose to throw into the mix. Sometimes the simplest and most effective approach is to remember one easy phrase: “Aim for win-win”. Committing to this in the moment can have an impactful, positive effect on how we handle ourselves, on what we say, how we say it, and on the end result.
Stay on the Hunt for Solution
The one thing we lose track of when we leap into conflict is a sense of objectivity, because it’s overpowered by our emotions. If we can tie our focus to a search for solution to the issue, we can nudge our attention away from our feeling-heart and its ace assistant the right brain, over to the left, more logical side of our thinking world, It takes practice and persistence but will pay big dividends as you feel your claws retract.
Tigers by nature are sole operators, as are we in a moment of conflict. When we feel our temper rising, we can try placing our attention instead, on moving more with the pack. That means being willing to share our thoughts, not dictate them. It means asking questions and exploring what is important to the other party, not trying to enforce our own agenda, which brings us back to our previous pearl of wisdom, “Aim for Win-Win”.
About the author
Muffy Churches is an internationally renowned integrative success coach. Born in the US and settled in Sydney, she works as a corporate trainer, executive coach, speaker, author, and counselor. She has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world. Muffy is the author of “Coach yourself” Love & Write Publishing 2016. For more information visit www.muffychurches.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org