How to Avoid 'Losing It'

June 15, 2015

Is a client getting under your skin? A negotiation getting too tense? Are you absolutely dreading a task?

"We are all human, so being triggered is a natural part of life," writes Christine Comaford, who offers neuroscience-based leadership and sales culture coaching, in a column for Forbes.com. "We can't change that and we can't control how other people act, especially when their actions irritate us. But we can control our reaction, and better yet, we can forge new neural pathways that will enable us to respond to a negative trigger in a way that serves us, instead of drains us."

Comaford offers several of the following steps to creating new responses.

Pinpoint your main triggers. What patterns do you most often fall into -- blaming, shaming, berating, or rescuing people when triggered? What is your preferred outcome when you're triggered in the workplace?

Become curious. Try to make yourself curious instead of defaulting to past reactions. "What is the other person experiencing? What behaviors are available to them?" Comaford urges others to ask. "More importantly, are you valuing their beliefs and their experience?"

Check your ego. Are you refusing to accept another person's idea because you feel a greater sense of importance or feel superior and more in control when everything is done your way? "Notice what feelings you experience when you are triggered and start to slow them down," Comaford says. "Let yourself really feel. What might you be believing – about yourself, the world, the situation, the other person – to be having this experience? What's beneath it all?"

Give yourself a timeout. Comaford recommends a shift in your brain by doing a "break state," such as counting something, asking questions to change the subject, or movement such as stretching or walking. The break may help you feel refreshed when you look at the issue again.

Source: "Triggered? 6 Steps to Prevent 'Losing It.'" Forbes.com (June 12, 2015)