How do you gain clarity in complex situations when your emotions are the blocker to you having the influence impact you desire?
This happens to me more than I would like. Whether it’s trepidation in sending that chaser email to a prospective client or an end of year appraisal, the emotional state you are in has a significant impact on your performance. I tell you where I really suffer from this at the moment, it’s the dreaded (in my opinion) introduction at the start of a course or event. When it gets to three people away from me I get the usual symptoms that I’m suffering an emotional hijack, heartbeat increases, heartbeat gets louder, sweaty palms and I become acutely aware of the mechanics involved in talking, a function that I carry out with subconscious ease during the rest of the day. My energy is focused on the emotional state I am in and as a result, my performance suffers. This focus on the emotional state is what is defined as an emotional hijack.
At Applied Influence Group we have developed a protocol that draws on our experiences of operating in highly emotive military operations, that allows the user to manage the emotions of those around them and crucially, themselves. For me the following two elements of the protocol have allowed me to manage my emotional state in such a way that I maintain control and have the impact I need in difficult / highly emotive situations and now, when introducing myself at training events.
Ask a Question. Sometimes you just need to give yourself time. When interacting in a highly emotive environment face to face, asking a question can create the opportunity to give yourself time. “ Can you clarify that for me ?” is often a good question to throw out to the room or to the individual who may be catalyst to the hijacking / the one applying pressure. It's risky, as you need to be able to listen to the answer, but using the tactic of asking a question can be better than being emotionally hijacked and having an outburst.
You can also use the tactic of asking a question internally (without vocalising the question) in order to trigger a cognitive response. This trigger forces your brain to answer and as a result of cognitive processes being activated, the emotional load is reduced. I have a friend who has been pushed into the public eye and now finds himself having to give speeches to large audiences. He suffers with emotional hijacking and uses internal questions to reduce his emotional load so that his performance isn’t affected. The questions he asks himself before starting whatever speech it is are, “are you going to run away from this situation?” Usually the answer is “no” to which the second question is asked “why not?”. Invariably the answer to the second part is “because they may want to hear what I have to say”. This process may be useful in terms of getting a little bit of confidence before going on stage but the real benefit is in the fact that he has had to answer the questions and as a result he has to trigger cognition and as a result, lower his emotional state without anybody being aware.
Use the Environment. This may seem a bit cheeky but if you have become emotionally hijacked, try and use the environment around you to provide you the opportunity to engage some cognition. Think of a boxer on the ropes in a fight, trying desperately to grab on to an opponent to buy themselves some time to breath and get control. They are using the environment to their advantage, you should do the same. Think of some of the socially acceptable boxer-type grab techniques that you could use. Going to the bathroom, going to get some water or even making a cup of tea (if appropriate) can all be ways of carving out an opportunity for you to tackle the effects of an emotional spike without anybody knowing. Getting time away from the situation to make sense of what is going on, ask yourself some questions and crucially engage a level of cognition can help you to keep control of your emotions and ultimately the situation.
There are a few more techniques that can be employed but the two considerations above have certainly helped me in the past and will continue to do so into the future. If you feel the potential for an emotional spike in the future see if you can employ the tactics above and let me know how it goes.