We all lose control, and there can be many contributing factors. One common instance is when we disagree with another person, and instead of having a conversation to address the difference, we enter a heated debate, rendering both of us dissatisfied and upset.
In order to manage your emotions, you first need to know what triggers you from maintaining control.
Technique 1: Examine Your Perspectives And Biases
When two people disagree, it is natural for them to see the world through their own eyes. We are all shaped by our experiences, how we were brought up, and how we perceive everything around us. Many of these beliefs shape how we view the world and impact our decisions, and we may not even be conscious of it.
I recently listened to a comedy sketch in which men and women shared hilariously different perspectives on why computers should be “male” or “female.” In this case, it was a delightful joke, but those two vastly different perspectives often trigger heated debates. It was a very accurate illustration of gender bias. Many clashes between individuals can be a result of these unknown beliefs. Healthier communication can transpire when we check our biases and prevent our emotions from taking over the conversation.
Technique 2: Become Curious
When two individuals do not agree, they become dogmatically positioned rather than having an open mind. When taking this stance, part of the breakdown in communication is not fully listening to the other person. We tend to stay in our heads, thinking of rebuttals and/or challenges to the other person’s position. We tend to react instinctively based on our own self-centered perspective of what is best rather than choosing to understand where the other person is coming from.
When we do not give the other person our full attention and listen to their perspective, the situation is ripe for miscommunication, misunderstanding, and misinterpretation. Emotions build up.
In the workplace, this often happens when a colleague has made a different decision than what you would have made. A technique I teach my clients is to become curious and ask questions to gain an understanding of how your colleague came to that conclusion and/or perspective. Curiosity creates a space where you are actively listening and managing your emotions.
Managing your emotions requires not only making an effort to understand where the other person is coming from, but putting yourself under the proverbial microscope and scrutinizing the origins of your own beliefs, how they shape your ideas, and even your emotional response. In other words, it means becoming an objective spectator of your thoughts and what shapes them. You become curious about yourself and what drove you to the decision you made.
Adopting this technique with your workmate, you have controlled your emotions during the disagreement and can have a more collaborative discussion because you were less emotionally reactive.
Technique 3: Label The Stressor
What about stress? How does stress impact your emotions?
When I am working with someone and they tell me they are “so stressed,” I ask questions to narrow down what the stressor is rather than simply nodding my head. That’s because when you can identify the stressor (a common one my clients encounter is wanting to make a career change or move to a different organization because of the culture), then the stress goes down, and we explore steps to change the situation. When you do not identify the emotion and merely give it a label such as stress, you cannot do anything about your situation and emotions will run rampant. Investigating further into the stressor gives you more data on the driving force behind the emotion.
What are you thinking about when you think about this issue? What thoughts are driving the issue? I also suggest naming three other emotions beneath the one you are stating. For example, underneath anger can be sadness, frustration or hurt. By labeling more emotions, you have gained greater self-awareness into the problem, allowing you to take control of your emotions and possibly the situation.
Technique 4: Adopt A Mindfulness Practice
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between mindfulness and managing your emotions. Being more mindful in your communication with others can help everyone involved manage their emotions. Mindful communication loops back to respecting the perspective of the other person and being mindful of what, if anything, might be triggered in you by listening to what they are saying (without reacting on the trigger).
A mindfulness practice facilitates all the techniques mentioned above and, most of all eases the process of managing your emotions. As you know, lack of impulse control is the No. 1 derailer for most leaders and leads to poor employee engagement, retention and performance.
This article originally appeared on Forbes and is featured here with Author permission.