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Blog: Meeting Meltdowns: Why did I say that?!!!


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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.

  1. Take a time out – Even a short trip out of the meeting room for a common excuse can give you the time to take a few deep breaths.  Although adrenalin is needed if we are in peril, it can be your enemy in a meeting full of emotional turmoil.
  2. Find the patience to listen– In a stressful meeting, messages are flying in all directions and no one is really listening.  The respect of truly listening to an alternate viewpoint can change the tempo of the whole meeting.  Try repeating the message of the “other side” and you may find that you are not as far apart as you thought.  Once you listen to their input, they may react much better to your perspective rather than your emotion.
  3. Forgive yourself and follow up - If you really “lost it” and your comments create a conflict, take accountability for a bad meeting.  Most people have experienced something similar and will react well to a sincere apology about getting caught up in the emotion of the moment.  Use this as a lesson to understand what triggers you in these situations and to manage your future reactions.  This is an opportunity for a valuable leadership lesson.
  4. Refresh your personality testing knowledge - Revisit and explore personality typing.  Myers Briggs and Emergenetics help to explain how others may view situations differently and can help immeasurably in shaping your leadership messages.

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.

MSB Coach has the resources and tools to develop with your leadership skillset by understanding personality types.  Please contact us at for further information.


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