How to control yourself when you’re upset in public

The very first skill on the emotional intelligence list is: self-awareness.  You gotta know you.  Interesting thing about that- social researcher tell us humans don’t know ourselves as well as we think.  That means we’re not as skillful when it comes to recognizing or controlling our own emotions.

In a business context or a client meeting, your inability to hold it together  could keep you from getting what you want or need.  So I say, don’t hold it in.  Let it out, baby.  Here are my best tips for dealing gracefully when you want to cry or you’re so angry you see red.

How to control yourself when you’re upset at work
1. Recognize you’re upset. Amazing how often we don’t realize (or want to accept) that we’re angry, hurt or sad in public- gasp! So begin to look for signs in your body or thinking that signal UPSET. Just that can keep you from having an ‘OMG I didn’t’ moment.

2. Be transparent about stepping back. If you’re in the middle of a meeting or with others you want to act appropriately. That might mean taking a step away from things for a moment to regain your balance.

It’s far better to say, I need a minute to process. I’m going to the bathroom and when I return I’ll be ready to go, then to stay put in an increasingly uncomfortable situation. You’ll find that people respect your honesty and self-control.

3. Be compassionate to other and you. It’s human nature to want to demonize someone who has hurt you, assigning them all sorts of evil intentions. Don’t make that assumption. It’s a mistake that makes it almost impossible to resolve things.

It’s a bigger mistake to blame yourself for having feelings and expressing them.  Passion is an emotion. Would you want to give that up?  No, then you gotta embrace all your emotions, not just the ones you like.

Extreme anger makes me cry. It wells up in me until my cheeks are flowing with tears of frustration and hurt.  I choke trying to force my words out amongst the sobs.  It’s not at all pretty and I wish it didn’t happen.  Embracing it, snot and all, was very freeing.

I stopped living in fear of crying and just accepted it most of the time.  Now I say- Hey, I cry when I get really mad.  There’s less confusion and I stopped worrying that the other person t see me as weak.  It’s amazing what compassion can do.

How do you see this working for you?


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