“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
This quote by Viktor Frankl resonates very well with me and anyone who is trying to improve his or her own impulse control.
I was reminded of this – hard way, very recently. I’d like to share my lesson with you.
In my capacity as a leader, I reacted to a situation just by listening to one side of the story. “Oh no why did you do that Arvind?” Yes pretty bad move right.
I hear what you are saying! While at a rational level I knew the significance of investigating both sides of the coin before making a decision. Sometimes you get emotionally hijacked. And that’s what happened to me.
Hey I am not perfect you know! As a result, I had to do the right thing. Make amends for my mistake by apologising to all parties concerned and reflecting how I should respond to people and situations differently and avoid such embarrassing moments as a leader. Have you encountered such situations yourself?
Leaders who understand how to manage their emotional triggers in the workplace have greater influence, develop greater trust and create higher performing teams.
A trigger is an event that happens in your daily life that elicits an emotional response. Examples of triggers in your work environment may include constantly changing priorities, missed deadlines, and in my case wanting to right a wrong for a person who I truly care for without considering the other perspectives. These triggers may cause you to feel frustration, anger, and anxiety. Learning how to effectively respond to a trigger takes practice.
In my reflection, I recalled some interesting techniques which I picked up TACK TMI’s Mindfulness @ Work workshop internally and for our clients rather successfully.
Here are some quick techniques that we can adopt in how we choose to respond to people and situations more positively, patiently and in a more mindful way.
Neuroscience teaches us that we all naturally react to triggers using our “Emotional Brain” – the amygdala. When we are triggered, the amygdala sends us a signal that we are in a “fight or flight” situation, causing an adrenaline rush. Give your body a chance to settle down from this initial reaction by simply taking 6-10 seconds to pause and breathe deeply. Yes in my case earlier, I should have breathed more deeply just when I got emotionally hijacked.
Label the Emotion
By recognizing and labelling the emotion you are feeling, you are better able to manage it and become a better observer of yourself. How often does someone ask you how you are doing and you simply answer, “Fine” or “Good,” when in reality you are not. Identify the emotion you feel, whether that’s anger, frustration, or some other emotion.
Effectively responding to triggers doesn’t happen overnight. Triggers catch us off guard. Sometimes we’re more tired or stressed, which makes us less effective at managing our responses. It happens even to the most emotionally intelligent of us all. Remain mindful and practice every day, and you will find that over time you will have developed a strong trigger response and these steps just come naturally to you. Since that incident I have wowed to start doing my mindfulness meditation more regularly.
No matter what skill we are working toward developing, we must always take time to reflect on our progress. What is working? What isn’t working? When did we handle a trigger well, and when did we handle one not so well? How can we continue to get better? Through reflecting on how far we’ve grown, we can continue to grow further. As Peter Drucker once said, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
I hope my personal experience in dealing with triggers along with the above techniques and strategies could help you to manage their own impulse control. Regardless, whether you are a leader, manager or just anyone aiming to master your own impulse control, you would not mind reaping the benefits your own growth and freedom. And this only comes from the choice of our response to any triggers.
Till I connect with you again!
Vice-President, Performance Solutions