“I’m not going to change my mind,” the claim’s agent repeated. “We deny the claim.”
Donna shoved her office door almost closed as she raised her voice, “How can you do that?”
“No police report was filed. A witness disputed the original account.”
“But she admitted she was on her cell phone.”
“She wasn’t on her phone.”
Donna’s voice pierced the walls ricocheting down the hall.
She had lost control.
Control and focus
What leads to out-of-control behavior? Usually, the moment follows a well-worn path:
- Something out of your control happens
- It matters; you feel threatened
- The focus is on trying to control what is out of your control
- An unproductive behavior takes over: you’re out of control
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 advantage or needs and lose sight of the other person, especially in the moment of conflict. Unfulfilled expectations create frustration.
Like a shadow in the night, excessive concern with self-preservation 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 you’re ready for battle. While great for the jungle, such a response is unproductive in the workplace.
Create space to gain self-control
A next level leader creates space to think, first for himself/herself, then for others. To support self-control you must create space to think in the “workplace jungle.”
Creating space to think requires you to take control of yourself. Here are four steps to help you “pace yourself”:
- Pause and breath – A slow deep breath or two helps slow things down, literally and physiologically, so you stop and think
- Ask questions – Why do I feel threatened? What do I fear? What do I want from this relationship? What did I expect? Was it realistic…?
- Challenge your beliefs – What am I accepting as true? What are my assumptions? Where am I jumping to conclusions?
- Edit the story – What’s my desired outcome? How must I show up for that to happen?
As you learn how to P.A.C.E. yourself, you will create support for self-control and achieve better results.
For your consideration
Reflecting on the story, Donna realized she focused on what was out of her control instead of her behavior.
Think of a recent conflict in your story. Now revisit it with these questions, as you seek the truth in the Story:
- What happened?
- What did you want to happen?
- How would you have to show up for that to happen?
Here’s to your Next Level,
Photo credit: Aaron Landry via flickr