Business models can rise and fall in the span of a decade or less. Technology is evolving so quickly that a few months can seem an eternity. But human emotions remain a timeless challenge.
Hostage at the Table was published more than a decade ago, yet author George Kohlrieser’s advice feels as fresh today as it did then. “Emotions are energy, and when energy is created, it must go somewhere,” Kohlrieser writes.
Kohlrieser argues that our emotions – especially our fears and anxieties – can prevent us from performing at our best. Among his suggestions for overcoming our less-productive emotions:
1. Embrace the power of visualization
When you’re faced with a stressful situation, negative thoughts can be your worst enemy. Visualization is a proven way to condition your mind to focus on the positive, and athletes long have embraced this technique. A pitcher imagines striking out a batter before taking the mound. A tennis player already has hit the ace before lifting the racquet. You can apply visualization in the workplace, too. Say you’re scheduled to make an important presentation. Before the presentation, imagine everyone sitting around the conference table listening to you intently. Visualize the handshakes and plaudits you’ll receive afterward. Think of your warm feelings of self-satisfaction.
Productive dialogue requires that you avoid dominating the conversation. Say enough to get your point across and then allow room for a response. Good listeners look the other person in the eye and rephrase what they’ve heard.
3. Accept criticism calmly
Rather than lash back against reprovals, thank the critic for making a valuable contribution. Don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by criticism or by your emotions.
4. Acknowledge conflict
It might seem easier to pretend conflict doesn’t exist, but ignoring it won’t make it go away. Like a wound that needs attention, conflict requires care – ignoring it only creates a painful, festering infection. Strive to resolve conflicts sensitively. Simply unloading on someone who upset you will make the person retreat, and may trigger an equally emotional outburst aimed, this time, at you.
5. Understand the importance of bonding
People who experience a complete bonding cycle are likely to feel secure and to possess robust self-esteem. Bonding can be a childhood experience — parents who offer positive reinforcement and convey the message that anything is possible plant the seeds for a productive adulthood. Such parents become secure bases for their children. A secure base is a person, objective or even an object that anchors an individual, and provides strength and confidence. Your secure base may be your spouse, parents, boss, home, religion, passionate hobby, volunteer work, or some other mix of people and support systems. Whatever the base is, it’s crucial that you understand the source of your stability or instability.