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How to adapt to different speaking situations
How to engage with an audience
How to use body language effectively
Emotional things happen at work every day. When faced with overbearing bosses, annoying colleagues, or comments that derail us, it’s not always easy to maintain our calm and composure. But showing poise in the face of difficult situations is an important skill to develop your executive presence.
Should you find yourself suddenly set off at work, try one or more of these strategies to regain your calm.
When you’re in fight-or-flight mode, your breathing becomes irregular, fast, short, and shallow. Regulating it can be your first line of defense. Lengthen your exhales and focus on breathing from your belly. Inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight. This slows down your heartbeat, stabilizes your blood pressure, and encourages full oxygen exchange, which is critical to the brain’s ability to function.
Do something to take the attention away from your strong emotion temporarily. Focus on another sensation in your body, such as the feeling of your weight pressing into your seat, wiggling each toe individually, or lightly rubbing your fingertips together to see if you can feel the ridges of your fingerprints.
Research shows that putting your feelings into words, or emotional labelling, can quickly reduce their grip on you and lessen your physiological distress. When you feel that emotional rush in a meeting, ask yourself, “What are two or three words that describe how I feel right now?”
After the moment has passed, and when you have more time, process your feelings more fully alone or with someone you trust to determine the relative costs and benefits of expressing them. This will help you decide whether to share them more widely — either with your manager or with the person who triggered you.
The above strategies will help you break free from an amygdala hijack and increase activation of your prefrontal cortex. But there may also be times, particularly in team meetings, when you’ll need to respond right away and won’t have a private moment to collect yourself.
To prepare for these situations, come up with a couple of go-to lines that will allow you to quickly respond and buy yourself more time.
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