As Walt walked down the hall to the conference room for a meeting with Jim he felt dread. In his mind he was replaying the complaints he had received from Jim’s fellow co-workers about his behavior. A surge of anger went through him that made his steps faster and his face flushed.
Your mental mindset before a difficult conversation can be the difference between a receptive or resistant response.
Intellectually Walt knew as a Senior Leader in the organization, how he handled the conversation with Jim would influence how receptive Jim would be to turn his behavior around. The key word is “intellectually”. In Walt’s mind, he knew the importance of being aware of his tone, sticking to the facts, and most of all conveying to Jim he is a valuable asset to the organization. He also knew his anger was clouding viewing Jim in a positive light.
What we know “intellectually” doesn’t always translate to what we do.
Despite Walt’s “intellectual knowledge” about how to have difficult conversations, Walt was also aware he was angry. Angry at the choices Jim had made that were negatively affecting the company brand, the productivity of the team, and the overall culture of the company. As he walked down that hall, Walt was torn between the “knowing” of what to do and getting hijacked by his anger.
Before you go into difficult conversations, PAUSE…
Pause – Take time to literally stop. Use your breathing to keep you anchored in the present moment and do nothing.
Allow – Bring awareness to what is happening inside of you. Identify what you are feeling. Without judgment, you are simply allowing whatever is there to surface and give it a voice.
Understand – Feelings are understandable when facing uncomfortable situations. By first acknowledging whatever your feelings are as understandable and reasonable, you are starting to take charge of managing them.
Sink in – Continue to be still, focused on your breath and let calmness sink in as you give yourself understanding and compassion. In doing so, you are putting a brake pedal on your fight/flight response and allowing rational thinking to surface.
Envision – Picture in your mind’s eye staying calm, articulate, and focused on the issue at hand. Even if the other person becomes defensive, you see yourself handling the situation with skill, poise, and dignity.
Anger is normal, the key is what you do with it.
You were a human being before you were a leader. It is normal that sometimes emotions get in the way of handling tough situations well. The key is staying in charge of your emotion or mood, so you behave in ways that contribute to a positive outcome. By taking the time to calm your internal environment, you are more likely to have a positive impact on your external environment.
Make the Conscious Choice to enter difficult conversations in charge of your mental mindset by taking time first to PAUSE