By Jackie Kellso, President of PointMaker Communications, Inc.
Many people have been asking me about how not to overreact emotionally, aggressively or undiplomatically in a work environment when things go wrong (usually caused by someone else, of course!).People also want to know how to stop those unconscious non-verbal signals that tell the truth about what they are really feeling in the face of not being able to say it.
I have such a simple, yet excellent solution that it almost seems silly. But it works. It’s called, “Detach & Breathe.” It’s something I came up with to save myself in a highly stressful work environment years ago.
I had been struggling with a manager for two years, battling over his way vs. my way. As a result, he had begun to cut me out of important decisions and it forced me to realize that my stubbornness was what had been hurting me. I had been so intent on being right that I had not allowed him to be ‘the boss.’ Lesson in letting go of having to be right, in the face of being smart!
One day, during a usual confrontation, I realized that I was battle-fatigued and had put my job into jeopardy. He had authority and that was that. I had to let go of the idea of protecting “my turf” and doing things my way, despite the fact that he didn’t know as much about my job as I. I said, “Rich, you know what, from now on, I will defer to you and I give you my word. I’m done fighting and I want to show you that I support you.”
"The only thing we are truly attached to is what we think and believe."
I went into my office and wrote DETACH and BREATHE on post-its and placed them at eye level on my computer. For the next few weeks he’d tell me how and when to do something and before any response I would DETACH AND BREATHE and then say, “Yes.” Well, by the third week, he started giving me the latitude do just go ahead and do things my own way. He began to include me in decisions. He was done trying to capitalize on his authority because I had stopped fighting it. So go ahead! It’s effective!
Detach & Breathe when you:
1. Feel yourself getting angry, hurt, teary; if the emotion is intense and its display could hurt the perception of you.
2. Begin taking things personally, which is affecting your ability to think and act objectively.
3. Find you are struggling for power with a co-worker.
4. Want to condemn someone else and are ready to snap, yell or scream.
Besides, what else is there at this point? Quit, get fired or have a stroke?
Place the words DETACH and BREATHE on two separate post-it notes and have them visible at all times. Eventually the brain will automatically sound them off to you, but you must keep at it!
The only thing we are truly attached to is what we think and believe. We must first look deeply within to see how these attachments are negatively impacting how we react. Once we can detach, we are free. I mean really free.