All leaders are confronted with unexpected, un-planned interruptions to their thoughts. The worst kind is when bad news is presented.
Our thoughts are trained to seek out fear. When the brain senses danger, the primitive part of your brains shuts off logical thought and literally blocks off the pathways to rational thinking, paving the way for a rapid reaction – to save lives.
This was and sometimes is, a necessary response, when faced with great, life-threatening danger.
I have not heard of many leaders facing life-threatening interruptions in the modern workplace.
Our brains, however, still react in the same alarmist manner at the slightest hint of threat, resulting in our saying or doing things that are rash. Therefore, I have heard many leaders ask for help with their reactionary, bad behavior.
This behavior is tough to change. It takes discipline and self talk to divert the reaction before things come out of our mouths.
Something that has proven to be helpful for top leaders is doing mental work before any event can hijack their thoughts.
- Making time to analyze “worst fear” scenarios
- Being honest about identifying rapid, habitual reactions
- Testing assumptions regularly
- Clinically dissecting reactionary behaviors by asking “what” questions
- Visualizing a calm, thoughtful responses and behavior when the alarm bells are set off in your head
Many of us think we should know how to control our reactions in the moment. When we fail, we typically only think about the apology we have to deliver. Try changing that now, before you are faced with a critical-sounding interruption by developing the habit of thought talk.
I help leaders cut through the emotional hijacks so that their intellect takes control. If this something you want a team member to learn, send them my way.