What Happens When Our Emotions Get the Best of Us

Leaders warn against the danger of letting emotions get the best of us when discussions become heated or frustrating. 

Check out a recent exchange between White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and April Ryan of American Urban Radio, in which Gibbs essentially compared Ryan to a petulant child.

So what can we learn from this example?

 First of all, before we laugh or snicker at this on air exchange, we must remember that it can happen to anyone…at any time.  No one is immune from this trap. 

 Here are three quick tips to help you avoid the emotional slip trap:

 1.  Know your Vulnerabilities
A physiological event occurs within us when our emotions become involved in a difficult conversation with someone – blood pressure rises, our face become red, we become hot, our voice raises, etc.  Mentally track when this starts to happen so you can create a logical (and intentional) response.

 2.  Find your Exit Strategy
When you know your buttons are being pushed, have your escape strategy ready.  Retreat, tabling the conversation, and acknowledging the tenseness of the situation are three active responses to consider.

 3.  Make it Right
Let’s face it, everyone can think of a time when responding emotionally got the best of us.  When it does, there is a need to make it right.  Apologize.  Be specific.  “I’m sorry.  I let my emotions get the best of me and you did not deserve my comment.”  These are hard words to say but the sentiment is critical to maintain the relationship.

 Personally, I’m thankful my interactions with others are not followed by the media and viewable on the public stage.  But then again, the people I interact with can play that tape (of our conversation) in their minds any time.  I want to focus on influencing that playback in a positive way.

 What about you?

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