Emotional Control: When Your Territory is Threatened
The second it courses through your veins, your body and mind are battling between only two options: fight or flight.
My clients who hire me for presentation skills training often want a section on how to deal with nervousness. In other words, how to handle the hit of adrenaline before a speech.
But, we all know that an attack of adrenaline doesn’t kick down the door only before speaking in front of a group. It happens before walking into the boss’s office to ask for a raise. It happens the second you’ve been assigned to take the lead on a make-or-break project. It happens the moment you realize you forgot to put on deodorant this morning.
I recently had to put my teachings to practice when an arsenal of adrenaline charged my body like it was the front lines of a third world war. The one small difference was that there was no question about whether I wanted to fight or flight. It was all fight.
There aren’t too many times when I feel like taking the fighting Irish stance, but recently I wanted to put up my mitts because I felt threatened, not physically, but someone was threatening on my territory – my business. Or, at least that’s how I perceived it at first.
Usually when I’m brought in to work with a company, it is a collaborative effort among myself, the HR departments, department leaders, and the groups that will be in the classroom. I like to get as comprehensive of an understanding of what a company has seen, wants to change, and the results they are measuring by.
The process before the first training session is usually a lot of fun. There are many a-ha moments based on the questions that I ask the group and many, many laughs (because what’s the point if you’re not having fun, right?)
Before on of the preperations meetings, one of the collaborators decided to go through my proposal and outline with a fine-toothed comb and add some notes. The notes we double the length of my outline.
I’ll be honest with you, some not so very nice thoughts with some not so very nice names were said when I read the email in my office. Who does that (bleep) think he is? Does he think I’m an idiot? I’ve been doing this for 10 (bleeping) years! Where does that (bleepy, bleepin’, bleeper) get off?!
Right away I was trying to wordsmith some subtle jab in response. I would type away for a few sentences and then hit the delete key 50 times. Type. Delete. Type. Delete.
And then, the training kicked in.
I took notice of my state. It felt so hot that I had to check about that deodorant thing again. My heart was racing. My blood pushing through so strong that I thought I could hear it. There was so much tension throughout my body that I felt a slight vibration in my arms and chest. My breath was so shallow that I think air only reached the top portion of my lungs.
Once I took notice, I realized how exhausted I felt.
I identified the components of the state throughout my body. Then, I was rationally able to focus on each area and diminish the reaction. From tension to relaxation. From shallow to deep breaths. From a piercing stare at the screen to a soft look inward to my present moment.
Rationality found its way to me.
Did I really think this person had malicious intent when they sent the email? No. They were probably just trying to be thorough. Perhaps they have micro-manager tendencies. Perhaps they wanted to feel more involved in the process. Perhaps they were trying to impress someone with their knowledge of things. Perhaps that’s just what they thought they were supposed to do. There were numerous possibilities and reasons.
The meaning of it would be what I gave it.
It was then up to me to decide what would be the most effective meaning to give it and what would be my most effective next steps.
With my rational mind in tact after consciously changing my reactionary, adrenaline-filled state, I was able to make a much wiser decision – and it didn’t involve anything that needed to be bleeped.