Did I really say that??!!! Have you ever left an important meeting with a knot in the pit of your stomach not knowing exactly what you said but knowing that it was completely the wrong thing? Wondering if there is damage to your relationships with key colleagues because emotions took control of your voice?
Fear not! There are ways to better understand this emotional reaction and tools to help you use this energy for powerful and more effective messages.
First, let’s understand what is happening in your reaction. If you have worked with personality typing such as Emergenetics or Myers Briggs (and I heartily recommend considering these tools if you haven’t), you understand our differences in how we process situations, information, and reactions to other people. Certain ways of viewing the world are naturally more comfortable for you. So what happens to your style when stress or pressure pushes you to operate in a way that is completely outside of your usual style and comfort…and may lead you to post-meeting questions of “what was I thinking when I said THAT?”
I reference a great piece of research called In the Grip; Understanding Type, Stress, and the Inferior Function, by Naomi L. Quenk. The premise is that when our usual dominant styles are confronted with fatigue and stress, we have an inferior reaction type, the opposite of our standard Myers Briggs type, which takes over our reactions in the frustration of the moment.
So what does this mean in real life situations? Consider a situation when you are tired and at the end of your patience. The reasonable “you” is now agitated, angry, and acting out of character. Backed into a corner, the opposite of your standard personality erupts in a way that is confusing to you and to others in the discussion. You can come away from a meeting wondering “who was that person?”
So how can you manage the energy of stress and ensure that you project your best self in discussions that matter? The trick is to reconnect to your comfort and style strengths by recognizing the situations that cause this level of stress and fatigue. I recommend four basic ways to reconnect to your true type.
The better you understand yourself and others, the more productive your meeting discussions can be even in stressful situations. Exploring your personal style can be an exciting journey.