As soon as your nemesis enters the conference room, you feel your emotional temperature rising. Your breathing catches in your chest. Your face flushes. Your thoughts scramble. Fear coils inside your belly.
You’ve planned for this.
You take three slow, deep breaths and feel your equilibrium and focus return.
If emotions take you down:
If anger, rage, fear, betrayal or other emotions have unraveled you when you could least afford it, you need an “emergency plan.” Consider this—the best time to craft an emergency plan for handling the emotional surge that some individuals and situations create in you is before the wave hits.
You need a strategy that:
- Tells you your emotional temperature has begun rising; and
- Keeps your emotional and physiological arousal in check.
Stock your emotional first aid kit with remedies such as:
- Taking three slow, deep breaths, a process which takes only seventeen seconds but calms you;
- Visualizing a scene that means relaxation to you;
- Repeating a mental statement inside your head such as “no guts, no glory” or “rock on”;
- Announcing you need a brief break to use the restroom or get a glass of water;
- Consciously adopting a relaxed posture and noticing that as soon as you pull your shoulders down from around your ears that you feel more relaxes;
- Visualizing the other person’s upsetting comments or facial expressions flying by and splashing on the wall behind you.
If you’ll practice your favorite two, or three, of the above “quick fixes” now when you’re not in crisis, it’s a simple next step to use the next time you head in a trouble situation.
Here’s why they work
- They counter the physiological arousal that initiates when you feel under attack and keep it in check.
- They send you the self-soothing internal message “I’ve got this,” “I’m taking care of you,” “I’ve got your back.”
Here’s why you need an emergency plan
Although emotions can fuel you, when you’re in a conflict situation they more often create harm.
- Give you tunnel vision, in which your focus narrows until all you’re aware of is your emotions;
- Derail your ability to think strategically;
- Take control of your behavior, leading to forget the consequences of rash actions such as making angry statements or storming out of the room;
- Make you more vulnerable because they signal to the other person that you’re off-balance;
- Ignite the other person’s anger.
Once in control
Once you’re in control of yourself, you can act with clear purpose and take control of the situation or at least, your part in it.
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