“He just doesn’t get it. How can he be such a roadblock when we are just trying to do the right thing!”
As my client was sharing with me her frustration with an administrative colleague, she explained that every time she had a suggestion, it seemed her colleague had a perfect objection to stall progress.
They were in a stalemate. And the stalemate was getting expensive. Wasted time and resources dedicated to meeting after meeting trying to figure out a solution. Trust between the two of them was deteriorating.
“If he can’t support me in this scenario, then does he really support me at all?”
Her interactions with her colleague were keeping her up at night.
And then, COVID-19 hit.
If it was important that they were on the same page then, it was really important that they communicated as they were leading teams through crisis. But my client found herself constantly reacting instead of collaborating with her colleague.
This story is not unique to my client. Many of us can relate to the feeling of being “emotionally triggered” by someone else. We can also relate to creating some unflattering behaviors that make the situation even worse!
As we continue to socially distance, self isolate and as our front line clinicians continue to serve in the most intimate of ways, our potential for unhealthy emotional reactions skyrocket as our patience with the pandemic wanes.
When we talk about our mental and emotional wellbeing, there is nothing that gets us off track (and can elicit an emotional reaction) faster than someone whose thinking is polar opposite from ours.
When that happens, we think to ourselves:
How can he not get it?
What is he thinking?
Why isn’t she on board? This is the only way that makes sense?
We judge them instead of trying to understand them.
We dismiss their statements (and often their intelligence) without hesitation.
So how do we control our emotional reactions so that we can manage our own wellbeing during times of stress and uncertainty?
The reason we are talking about a simple way to manage our emotional reactions is because we have more control than we think we do when others trigger us.
We can create our own experience, either full of anger and tension or calm and confidence.
We get to choose.
And I’m going to give you a simple tool to do just that.
I’ve worked in healthcare for the past 20 years. I’ve led organizations in times of growth and in times of hardship. I’ve partnered with physicians, c-suite executives and front line leaders and this is what I know:
In the midst of adversity, if we don’t focus on the choices we make in every moment, most of us enter these tense situations leading with our reptilian brain in full blown protection, fight or flight mode.
And in that mode, we usually bombard the recipient of our communication with the logical reasons why they need to agree, act or get on board. We talk more and listen less.
Or we silently blame them for “triggering us” and making us even more frustrated or stressed.
We catch ourselves jumping down others’ throats when they ask us to do one more thing…
It is times like these where we need to go back to the basics not just of leadership, but of humanity.
When you are in a situation where you are reacting to the behaviors of someone else,
Ask yourself one question:
What if they were just like me?
What if this person has beliefs, perspectives, and opinions, just like me.
What if this person has hopes, anxieties, and fears, just like me.
What if this person wants to feel respected, appreciated, and valued, just like me.
In every crisis, we have an opportunity to humanize our interactions.
In every crisis we have an opportunity to choose to manage our own reactions, emotions and contribution to the situation.
Instead of thinking about those with opposing opinions as annoying, roadblocks or someone who just plain doesn’t get it, we need to shift our thinking to one of connection.
Because something shifts when you ask yourself this one question: “What if they were just like me?”
Suddenly, you see the connection between the two of you. You see the possibility in the interaction instead of the problem.
And from that shift, you can then start to get curious. And only with curiosity is there hope of successful persuasion.
If you would like to view the 3rd video in the Wellbeing series about the power of this one question when confronted with people who “just don’t get it”, click here.
Do you need a personal action plan when adversity hits or bad things happen? Download this free Personal Action Plan for Overcoming Adversity based on my TEDx Talk: The Four Choices to Overcome Adversity
Carrie Koh is a TEDx speaker, consultant, executive coach and healthcare executive with a passion for enhancing the way we communicate with one another to ensure efficient and innovative results with greater fulfillment along the way. She is the leading authority on cultivating resiliency and teaching high performing leaders to overcome obstacles to lead teams through uncertainty. She would love to connect at www.carriekoh.com