You’re sitting in a meeting and your teammate is rambling on and on; you’re going crazy. Or they are saying something that is clearly biased: Seriously, they expect you to buy that crap!? Or they are being so pig headed and pushing all your buttons. What do you do?
1. Check in with yourself.
How are you reacting? Is your heart racing? Is your face getting red? Before you say a word (or jump to a conclusion), own your reaction. Remind yourself that your reaction is your subjective version of the situation—it’s not “the truth.” No one is pushing your buttons—they’re YOUR buttons: You decide if they get pushed or not.
Once you are in touch with your own subjective experience and how you are reacting to the situation, then you can start to address it.
2. Start with a Positive Assumption.
If you start with a negative assumption (he’s a jerk, she’s boring, he’s only out for himself), the conversation goes right down the toilet. You furrow your brow and say something nasty, then the other person crosses their arms and hurls an insult back and before you know it the whole meeting is off the rails.
Instead, start with a positive assumption. The person who is talking at length is passionate about her point. The guy who keeps repeating an issue is warning the team about a serious risk. Start with a positive assumption: There must be something here that I don’t understand.
Once you have opened your mind up to the possibility that your teammate is actually trying to do a good job, then you can look for the solution.
3. Get Curious.
Ask the open-ended, non-threatening questions that will help you understand what’ going on. “I feel like we’ve heard that same point a few times before. What do you feel we aren’t grasping?” “What’s important in this situation that we need to pay attention to?” Try to understand where your teammate is coming from and you’ll realize it’s not so annoying after all.
Apparently I need to be the one to tell you: Your teammate can’t drive you nuts. You’re in the driver’s seat. So instead of blaming your teammate for how you’re reacting, get on top of your own reaction, start with a positive assumption about their motives and intent, then ask the questions that will help you understand where they’re coming from. A little empathy will reverse that downward spiral and make everything on your team work and feel a whole lot better.