How to manage your emotions in meetings | A powerful tool for you
As a nonprofit leader, you’ve probably struggled with your emotions during a meeting. And, you know that feeling of being about to lose your composure is not fun! I’ve been there too, and it sucks!
When we are out of control, we are often reacting to what’s going on:
- The tears are ready to come, and it is soooo NOT the time to cry.
- A sarcastic comment slips out, and we didn’t mean it.
- We bite someone’s head off and then regret it.
- Our voice quivers, telling the world how nervous we are.
- That swear word just tumbled out when it shouldn’t have!
All of these are examples of losing control. In these situations, we feel powerless to hold onto our feelings and behaviours. We simply react.
Are You Playing the Blame Game?
Many of us blame that reaction on other people around us or the situation. Those darn Kleenex commercials always make me cry. My daughter tells me it’s my fault that she cries. If I cry, it makes her cry.
We do the same in business settings.
- If she hadn’t said that, then I wouldn’t feel this.
- If we weren’t so stretched, then I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.
- If it weren’t for the economy, the weather, the crappy office space, then…I wouldn’t be…
We Give Our Power Away
When we hand our thoughts and feelings to other people or the bigger “world,” we give our power away. So, in essence, you are saying. I am not in control of my emotions, or I am not in control of the way I act.
It’s that belief that makes you feel powerless.
When you feel powerless, you certainly don’t feel confident!
Who’s fault is it?
It’s not anyone’s fault, but we look to lay blame somewhere. Really, is it the rain’s fault that you feel sad? No. Nor is it your boss’s fault that you feel overwhelmed. And it’s not the employee’s fault for questioning something in a staff meeting. I know it sure feels like it. But hear me out for a moment.
Regain Your Sense of Control
When you gain access to what is going on inside of you, you can regain your sense of control and power.
We can see rain as a pain in the butt or a blessing. We can enjoy the sprinkles as we take out our umbrellas or grumble and groan at how it’s wrecking our plans. It’s up to us how we see it. In the same way, when we do self-reflective work, we can begin to feel grateful for the disgruntled staff member. They are growing our conflict resolution.
Take Back Your Power With This Tool
Here is the tool to gain back that control and increase your confidence. Using the Inner Guidance Cycle, you can shift from giving your control away to taking your power back.
There are 4 steps to the Inner Guidance Cycle: Pause, Ponder, Pivot and Proceed.
- PAUSE — Stop what you are doing
- PONDER — Tune into what’s going on inside of you and reflect on why it’s happening
- PIVOT — Shift how you see things and how you are experiencing the situation, thus taking back control
- PROCEED — Move back into action.
Let’s use the example from above to see the Inner Guidance Cycle in action.
🛠 The Tool: The Inner Guidance Cycle in Action
PAUSE: Stop and take a deep breath.
When your boss hands you another task, and you begin to feel overwhelmed, then PAUSE. Often, our first reaction is to direct frustration and anger at our boss. That gives power to them. They are in control of how you feel if you let them be.
When a team member asks a pointed question at the staff meeting, you may feel triggered and put on the spot. You know they said it to make you look bad. Your automatic reactionary response is to lash back at them. Before you react, pause!
Take a deep breath and begin to tune into yourself.
PONDER: Reflect on what is going on inside of you.
Take time to check your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. These are the parts of your Inner Guidance System. Just like a compass, they can guide you. Take time to PONDER and reflect. They help you identify your triggers.
Do you think your boss is a jerk? Perhaps you are wondering how you will ever be able to handle the workload. You might be thinking that you have to do it immediately. But, on the other hand, you could be telling yourself how unfair this is.
Do you believe this employee is trying to get you fired? Do you want to squash them, quiet them or put them in their place? Just notice the thoughts.
Are you experiencing a sense of overwhelm? Anger? Frustration? Despair? Incompetence?
3️⃣ Body Sensations:
These are often the clues that tell you what you are feeling. They help you become smarter about emotions and better able to name and tame them in the future.
- Is your heart racing?
- Did your face turn red?
- Is your stomach in knots?
- Are you clenching your fists?
- Are you feeling that tension headache coming on?
Consider what feeling that body sensation is connected to.
Start to reflect on what set you off. You’re still PONDERING at this stage.
🤔 What was the trigger?
Take time to consider what caused you to react strongly and quickly.
- Was it that the boss gave you this project or how they gave it to you?
- Was it the timing?
- Did it bother you because it’s really someone else’s responsibility?
- Are you anxious because you don’t know how to do it?
- Has that triggered a feeling of incompetence?
When a team member asks you a question at the staff meeting, and you immediately feel your composure slipping, consider the trigger.
- Did you feel like they were trying to take over?
- Do you suddenly feel put on the spot and unprepared?
- Are you feeling incompetent because you don’t know the answer?
- Does the question, and the look, seem to suggest that you don’t have the team’s support?
Example of triggers
Our triggers are often around “not enoughness.”
- I’m too young/old
- I am not smart enough
- I’m not the right color/gender
- I don’t have the right experience
- I haven’t been here as long as them
You may also be triggered by
- Being excluded
- Being disrespected
- Being misunderstood
- Not feeling like you belong
- Sloppiness / untidy / laziness
- When people don’t take accountability for their actions
- When you are disregarded/overlooked/invisible
💭 What mistaken beliefs do I have?
“I have to do this now.”
Do you really?
- Do you have to do it all?
- Do you have to do it in the way it was asked?
- Can you ask for help?
- Can you do a portion now and some later?
- Is there an easier way to get the result that you could suggest back?
“I have to do it perfectly.”
What does good enough look like? What is the real expectation versus my own “perfectionist” expectations?
“I can’t say no.”
- What would really happen if you said no?
- What is the worst-case scenario?
- What parts could you say no to?
“I need to have an answer.”
- Do you really need to know the answer?
- Does the answer need to be right now?
“They are out to get me.”
- We both want to enjoy our job and work in a place we like.
💜 What values are not being honoured here?
Perhaps your value of family time is being squashed because you will now have to work late. Maybe you feel that you will have to rush this project or another one now, and that impedes your value of doing good work. Perhaps you are not feeling respected or appreciated.
This whole reflection piece in the PONDER stage of the Inner Guidance Cycle serves to awaken new insights. This awareness is what allows you to take back control.
As you sift through all of the stuff inside you, you’ll see the mess of thoughts, feelings and body sensations begin to settle, and you’ll often be left with a clearer picture. It is that clarity that can make you do a bit of a shift in your thoughts and feelings. That is the PIVOT stage.
PIVOT: Shifting how you see things
When you see things in a new light, you shift your perspective. PIVOTING allows you to head in a different direction. Perhaps instead of feeling out of control and angry with your boss, you take a deep breath and ask if you can have a moment of their time.
PROCEEDING back into action
When you are proceeding, you are taking your finger off the pause button and PROCEEDING back into motion. You might ask if you can renegotiate the deadline. You might suggest splitting the task between you and another person. You might say no. Any of these actions put you back in control and feel an increase in confidence.
By moving through the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle, Pause, Ponder, Pivot and Proceed, you begin to take back your inner power. Instead of feeling out of control, you begin to regain a sense of power. But this time, it is internal power.
It isn’t your power over the situation or power over another person. Instead, you’ve found your voice. You’ve connected to what is truly important and discovered your strength from within. That’s the true meaning of being in control. This inner power is your inner confidence.
To be in control of yourself, do the inner work. Connect to your Inner Guidance System. You’ll be glad you did!
Originally published at https://www.kathyarcher.com.