• Buy the 11th edition of Know-it-all passport
  • Cirieco Design - Graphic Design and Marketing Services

angerintheworkplace web

By Mary-Jeanne "MJ" Cabanel, www.mjcabanel.com

Part 1 – Yours

I train emotional intelligence and communication skills all over Europe and consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on the subject.  Except, that is, when any injustice befalls my children.  Then with amazing speed, I become a ferocious Mama Bear protecting her cubs.  It happened quite recently, actually, and before I knew it, a scathing email had been sent far and wide to all parties involved as well as to a few leaders of the free world just for good measure.

I know better.  Still when the old reptile brain (or amygdala) gets triggered, the rational adult human being heads for the hills and is nowhere to be found.  This physiological response, also known as flight or fight syndrome, is normal and the way we, as human beings governed by the brain are wired.  It is not, however the best way to win friends, influence people, or get that promotion.

So what do you do when emotions kick in and your grown up checks out?

1.    Do a pilot check – stop, breathe and ask yourself. Who is driving the vehicle that is me right now?  If it is your inner Grizzly Bear or your inner three year old, pull over and stop! Stop driving, stop acting and stop doing anything except breathing.

2.    Take a timeout  – physically remove yourself from the setting, whether it is a meeting, a conversation or you in front of the computer—get the heck out of there.  Make a polite excuse and then take a walk, run the stairs, go to the restroom, but leave the space.  To quote one of my mentors, take the little girl to the little girl’s. Ideally this timeout is in a place that feels safe and secure to you.

3.    Be with the storm – whether your emotional weather is raining sheets of tears or thundering crashing anger, stay with the storm and let it flow through you.  Like weather, emotions come and go.  When we accept emotions, rather than hide them away or deny their existence, they pass, we learn what we need to learn and we move on.  Danger comes when we try to suppress emotions, for then they become trapped in the body and can result in sustained stress and disease. The faster we let the emotions flow through us the faster they pass, replaced with newer more productive energy.

4.    Recover to rational – Sometimes we need to help invite the rational by using healthy outlets for our emotions.  Some of these include: sports, journaling, venting with a trusted friend, or coach, and practicing meditation to name a few.  By employing healthy outlets and letting emotions pass through us, rather than suppressing them, our rational self can come back and take a firm place in the driver’s seat again.  From this place we can make confident decisions and take guided action.

5.    Determine a course of action – From the rational place, we can determine the next steps.  This might be a difficult conversation that needs to happen, a mess that needs to be cleaned up, a personal truth that needs to be spoken, or a whole host of other choices.  The important thing is that it is your grown up making this decision as opposed to your inner dinosaur.

As for me, Mama Bear is still growling a bit.  Guess there is a bit more work to do before I move into action mode!


portraitmj150Mary-Jeanne "MJ" Cabanel is a personal and executive coach living in Geneva.  Her passion is helping people unlock their own passions and accompanying them on a personal  and professional journey of discovery and self mastery. MJ's clients come from all over the world and range from individuals to board level executives.

MJ trained with the Coaches Training Institute where she is currently a member of the coaching faculty.  She holds an MBA from Thunderbird Global School of Management and has been a happy expat in France and Switzerland for 20 years.

Website: www.mjcabanel.com

See other articles in MJ's blog in the Careers section of our website.