Take a moment and think back to the last time you did or said something out of anger or frustration. Something that, on reflection, you wish you hadn’t done.
It’s in those moments that each and every one of us needs to become acutely aware of our internal monitoring system. Think of it as your own personal feedback system, an internal gauge that signals it’s time to pause, breathe and think about what you are about to say or do.
Although it is sometimes tempting to let loose, the consequences are rarely beneficial. In fact, throughout my career, I have observed many otherwise talented individuals sabotage their careers and personal lives because of the inability to control their tempers.
I have seen newsroom directors swear at co-workers, parents say demeaning things to their kids, and tennis players throw and break their rackets. All of this has usually been followed by profuse apologies, but as we all know, even the sincerest apology does not erase nasty words or behavior.
So, how do we stop ourselves from being at the mercy of our emotions? The best way is to hit the pause button, take a step back, and check in with your internal warning system. That way, you will be able to recognize what is happening and literally breathe and have a dialogue with yourself.
Then, rather than exploding, you can ask for a time out, and buy yourself the time you need to deal with the challenging situation in a more productive manner. If you are at a loss for words, you can always promise to discuss the issue at another time — after you have had a chance to process what is going on.
Like everything else, all self-improvement begins with self-awareness, and handling conflict without losing it is no exception.
Wishing you a conflict-free week!