Owning emotional situations – 3 communication strategies (video transcript)
Have you ever been in a conflict or a disagreement in your team, and although you have the skill set to deal with it constructively you lose control?
This is what I call an emotional hijack moment.
You are not your best self, and you need to figure out a way to resolve this situation without ruining your reputation or completely embarrassing yourself in front of your team.
Some days we’re just not in a position to be our best grown-up selves, and we lose it a bit. So in today’s article, let’s look at three steps to dealing with an emotional hijack moment during a team disagreement or conflict, and learn how to take back control of your emotions and the situation.
Step 1: Own the situation
The first step is perhaps the most uncomfortable, as it involves admitting to yourself and everybody else that you have lost control of your emotions.
However, you’re not giving people new information by doing this. They’ll see that you’re upset through your body language, your facial expression and maybe even your voice.
As such, it’s okay to say something like, “This conversation is throwing me for a loop”, “I feel like I’m going throw up at the moment” or even “Wow, my heart is racing in this conversation”.
Give them something very simple and objective.
The benefit of this is that verbalizing these emotions makes them less powerful. Often in these situations we put so much energy into pretending that we aren’t upset, which is wasted effort as everyone can see it written all over your body language anyway.
It’s much better to highlight what everybody can already see anyway.
So the first step is to name your emotions, say how you’re feeling and give people some kind of story about what’s going on.
Step 2: Give some insight into the situation
The second step is to give them some insight about the cause of what’s upsetting you.
It may be that you’re imagining something playing out and that’s why you’re getting upset. For example, if a new set of priorities is introduced which will render the last six months of your team’s work wasted, you can state that you are concerned about how to break the news to your team.
Another situation might be that you thought you were done with a project, and that the thought of having to do more work over the weekend is upsetting.
Be honest with them about what is actually going on.
Do as much as you can to give insight into what’s beneath the emotional reaction. Is it related to some kind of internal narrative? Is something that you value or care about being violated?
Help them understand where the emotional reaction is coming from. This will allow them to offer solutions or assistance in ways that will help you address the source of that emotional reaction.
Step 3: Ask for what you need to move forward
After clarifying the causes of your upset, you then need to ask for what you need to move forward.
There are lots of ways of asking for help depending on the situation and your personal approach.
You can ask them to not pay attention to the tears welling in your eyes and to get back on track.
You can also ask for a specific kind of help. In the example where you’re imagining breaking the story to your team, you can ask for help in figuring out how to tell them.
It may also be that you know yourself well enough to know that things aren’t going to improve in the next five minutes, in which case you could ask for an adjournment.
Remember: ask for what you need.
It’s important to remember that everyone struggles with emotions, and everyone has days where they can take over. However, the immature thing to do is to pretend nothing is happening and let the negative emotions build up further. Instead, by being transparent about what’s bothering you and then asking for help in moving forward, you take the high ground and retake control of that emotional hijack moment.