Have you ever been in a discussion with someone or doing a deal where they said something that really made you angry or upset? How about someone just flat out attacking you, calling you names, yelling at you? I am sure that has happened to every one of us at some point in our lives. How did you react? Did you fire back at the same level of intensity that they hit you with or did you answer in a calm collected manner?
Miriam Webster online dictionary describes emotion as a strong feeling (such as love, anger, joy, hate, or fear), a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.
Emotions can have a huge impact on the body. If you stuff your emotions, it will affect something in your body somewhere. More and more research is showing the affect of our emotions on our health. . I’m not advocating stuffing your emotions. However, I am advocating leaving strong emotional responses out of your business and personal dealings. It will keep the situation under control and on a more professional and respectable level.
Often times before I prepare for a discussion that I know might get emotional, I review that in advance and make a decision on how I will respond. Of course that doesn’t always work but it’s always my plan! In the past I was one to react with a lot of emotion. I used to have email wars with my ex-husband to the point of feeling and emotional hangover by the exchange. It would drain me. I have done a lot of work to not have those responses any longer.
During my Air Force career I was yelled at, threatened and belittled by many different contractors or customers who went on a rant about something they were upset about. Those of us in the Contracting Office got blamed for most things that went wrong with contracts. Often times I would simply tell them they could call back when they weren’t yelling and I’d hang up the phone. One contractor who I called out on his past behavior of overcharging the Government threatened me with court and he was going to bring his lawyers to the base. I hung up on him and never did business with him again. He was in the wrong, I had the documented proof that he was overcharging the Government. He didn’t scare me with those threats but it’s hard not to react in the face of someone screaming at you whether it’s in person or on the phone.
My son had a birthday party when he was a teenager. He had a lot of kids over and they were shooting water balloons in the parking lot at the school around the corner from my house. One of the balloons hit a passing car unbeknownst to me. It didn’t do any damage but the driver was not happy. The neighbor saw this happen and got very angry. He came to my house banging on the door and screamed at me for 15 minutes. I remained calm and kept repeating the phrase “I’m sorry, I understand, I’ll take care of it.” The more he couldn’t get me to engage with him, the angrier he got. He was red in the face and shaking he was so angry. When he couldn’t get a rise out of me he finally stormed off. When I walked over to get the kids back to the house, I had to pass by his yard. He and his wife both started yelling at me from their yard. I just kept on walking and ignored them. I felt great that I didn’t jump in and yell back at him at my door. It basically diffused the situation. He couldn’t get anything out of me to make a big scene and made himself look foolish for his over the top reaction.
Make a decision in advance to leave emotion out. Sometimes it’s a real challenge. When someone goes on the attack and says nasty things to you, it’s very hard not to get defensive whether it’s in business or personal. The thing to remember is that it’s not about you, it’s something in them that you have no control over, but you can control your response.