“We’re denying the claim,” the representative said.
Donna marched down the hall pushing her office door almost closed.
“I’m not going to change my mind.”
“How can you do that?” Donna asked.
“No police report was filed. A witness disputed the account.”
“She admitted she was on her cell phone,” Donna protested.
“She wasn’t on her phone.”
Donna’s voice pierced the walls. Co-workers cringed down the hall.
She had lost control.
Control and focus
What leads to out-of-control behavior? The pattern seems to be:
- Something out of your control happens
- It matters; you feel threatened
- Your focus is on trying to control what is out of your control
- You are out of control as unproductive behavior takes over
The greater the perceived threat, the more self-control is required. The more you care, the more your self-control will be tested.
Control and the human condition
Selfishness is a part of the human condition.
Who doesn’t want what they want, when they want it? It’s natural to concentrate on your own advantage or needs and lose sight of the other person, especially in the moment of conflict. Frustration intensifies when expectations are not met.
Like a thump in the night, excessive concern with self creates perceived threats in everyday interactions. Failure to exercise self-control escalates your stress, activating the fight or flight response.
This physiological reaction causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate to be ready for battle. While great for the jungle, such a response is unproductive in the workplace.
Creating space for control
To support self-control you must pace yourself. Creating space to think in the “workplace jungle” is required to survive the phone calls, meetings, and unfulfilled expectations.
Creating space to think requires you to take control of yourself. Here are four steps to help you achieve “pace yourself”:
P = pause and breathe
A = ask questions
C = challenge your beliefs
E = edit the story
- Pause and breathe – This helps slow things down, literally and physiologically; stop and think
- Ask questions – Why do I feel threatened? What am I afraid of? What do I want for this relationship? What did I expect? Was it realistic…?
- Challenge your beliefs – What am I accepting as true, right now? What are my assumptions?
- Edit the story – What do I want for this relationship? What must I do for that to happen?
When you “PACE yourself” you create space to exercise self-control and better results.
When Donna reflected on the story she realized she focused on what was out of her control instead of her behavior. What could she have done differently?
When in conflict where do you focus?
Here’s to your Next Level,