Issue: How to avoid “ramping up” during intense discussions and, instead, produce a tactical response.
Client views only 10% of his communication as personal in nature but views 41% to 63% of his colleague’s communication as personal, which causes him to “ramp up” in response. “While I don’t ramp nearly as much I still do take it and feel it PERSONALLY” – this reaction may be perceived as suppressing feelings, which is draining, rather than appropriate processing and responding, which is more helpful.
One: Everyone Has Baggage
Everyone comes to a discussion with their own baggage – their own history with an agenda item, their own history with the respective personalities, their own way of processing information, their own personal drama/get up on the wrong side of the bed baggage, and their own style of communicating. Therefore, their reaction and response to a discussion are uniquely their own, for a million different reasons. It’s not all about you.
It is far easier to manage your own response than to control how others communicate. This is not to say that you can’t have an impact on others, but that your impact on others will take a lot of time so best to begin with your reaction. Modeling appropriate processing and reaction may be the best way to influence others.
Two: Personal, Not Personal, Or Somewhere In Between
Acknowledge that what others say may be: personal, not personal, or somewhere in between. It is what it is. No need to figure it out. You just did – it’s either personal, not personal, or somewhere in between. You can’t control why or how something is said, you can, however, manage your reaction.
Consider that most folks have the best intentions and that they rarely actively try to hurt or anger others. Lucid people recognize that it is not to their advantage to hurt or anger others so they don’t intentionally set out to do hurt or anger. Sadly, problem people just don’t have an advanced set of tool in their toolbox, or are too spent to access their toolbox at the moment, so try to see them with gentler eyes.
Three: Trigger Points
Take stock of trigger points that cause an emotional “fight or flight” response.
When Bill says this, I feel my pulse quicken.
When Aaron says this, I feel my eyes squint.
When Leslie does this, my hands begin to fidget.
When Henry says this, I pace.
When William says this, I can’t wait to respond with intensity.
When Mark says this, my heart sinks/stomach drops.
When Ira says this, I feel sad/awful/angry.
Fight or flight responses are emotionally, physically and spiritually draining. They are also a distraction and not productive. Spend time addressing the situation and working on a helpful framework going forward.
Four: Ready Position
Once you recognize your trigger points, establish a position or stance to assume in anticipation of the trigger and hit.
Anticipating allows you to set up properly – feet grounded, body balanced and ready to read the play and respond appropriately. Every sport has a “ready” position, so get ready.
By contrast, not anticipating the trigger and hit may cause you to receive the blow when you are off balance. This off balance position may provoke an emergency/fight or flight response, both emotionally and physically, making it harder to read, respond and to recover from the hit. So instead of bouncing back after the hit, you remain off balance and ramped up in this emergency state throughout the discussion.
Five: Read the Play Using Active Neutral Mode
Now that you are balanced, read the play – in slow motion, if necessary. Establish an “active neutral” mode in which you note the information and tone in which it is delivered but refrain from reacting just yet. For example, try to develop a force field where you see the negative energy coming towards you and you react to slow it down so you can process it more effectively. Pull the information and tone out to process but let the negative energy go around you rather than through you.
You are not suppressing your reaction. Instead, you are noting your reaction and then delaying your response to avoid a knee jerk/Pavlov’s Dog reaction. Delaying the emotional response, even for a few seconds, will allow you time to process and diminish the emotion of the moment and allow for a measured and tactical response instead.
Six: Tactical Response
Now, it’s time to respond. A tactical response is not a detached, non-emotional response. You should be keenly aware of information and tone at all times so you can read and react to the situation appropriately. Instead, it is a balanced emotional response where your energy is measured and not overtly reactive. Your response comes, not directly from your gut but from your brain, using the processed emotions that your gut provides.
Tactical takes a lot of practice. It’s kind of like – wait for it, wait for it, extract the information and tone, how do I influence the situation, process, process, develop the best reaction, then deliver the reaction.
Specific Take Away
Plan time after intense discussions to debrief, either on paper or by phone, to assess “ramp up” triggers and formulate tactical responses. Practice the 6 steps.