I write this after an incident in a meeting last week. Someone made a suggestion and I reacted with what I call a ‘face crunch’ – an expression that says very clearly “what a silly idea”! I paid dearly for this quick reaction.
How fast are you at reacting? When was the last time you hit <SEND> and regretted it within seconds? When was the last time you snapped at an individual at work (or at home) without considering the repercussions?
We are all guilty here. We react way too fast to others: verbally, via email, over the phone or with the dreaded ‘face crunch’.
So how do stop this dangerous and sometimes nasty behavior?
- The 24-hour rule. We have all heard of this one. Craft the email response but don’t send it for 24 hours. This doesn’t mean don’t write the email. Just don’t send it. This really works. 24 hours later, you will have a great time deleting the PARTS IN CAPITOL LETTERS and the sections that are there just for you to let off steam. The fact is, the 24-hour rule will reduce the length of the message and definitely get your message across clearer and with respect.
- Take a breath. One extra breath before you react – that’s all. Actually, if you are really angry – take a few extra breaths. You need this time to cushion your response and to lose that ‘regrettable’ reaction. That intake of oxygen is often all it takes to save yourself from yourself.
- Walk away. Turn your back and walk. Go to step 2 – take a few breaths and then return. On the way back you have time to decide how you will react.
- Call a friend. Remember “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”? Well take a time out and when appropriate, call a friend or colleague. Run the scenario by them and ask them to assess the situation with you. So often this second set of ears will help diffuse the situation and thus allow to react with a clearer head.
We all react too quickly in the wrong situations and it hurts. It hurts us and it hurts our audience.
Please, wait 24 hours, take a breath, walk away or call a friend. Anything but that ‘face crunch’ of yours.
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