“How to keep calm in an argument is one of those lessons in life we should have been taught in school,” a client of mine recently said, as he struggled with a colleague at work. Helas, most of us find out the hard way by actually not keeping calm and letting the argument spiral downwards leading to a negative outcome.
His remark struck an instant cord with me, as I have been one of these emotional, lashing-out types, which I have blamed on my Russian blood and my French impatience (need to blame it on something!). When I flared up, I was convinced of what I was saying and the louder I got, the more I thought my message would be stronger. Then a few years ago, at the same time I was discovering Life Coaching, I was on the receiving end and being lashed out at. I was struck by the nastiness of it and actually felt empathy for that person. I began seeing an argument from another angle.
Arguments can happen anywhere; work, home, families, taxis, shops, airports, restaurants and in any language. Arguments don’t work; they are destructive, negative, exhausting, emotional, unresolved, hurtful and SUCH A WASTE OF TIME!
Take a moment and think back at an argument you had and remember that feeling. Step into it – what was your body language? How did you sound? What emotions were stirring?
Life Coaching has helped many of us tremendously in the last years to look at an argument from a different angle. Instead of the familiar “emotional, lashing out perspective,” I now automatically choose the “calm perspective.” On the rare occasion I feel a heated discussion rising, I am immediately aware of my own being and I know how I want to be.
Here are 10 Tools to Help Keep You Calm
Two More Things to Remember:
Who do you want to be in your next argument?
Yesterday I was invited to speak on “Living and Thinking Out of the Box”, one of the foundations of Life Coaching. It is fair to say that most of us have a box or boxes that we choose to live in, retreat in, create in. It can vary from a house space, to an office space, to a mental space.
In Life Coaching, we use a lot of visualisation. I asked all the participants to take a moment and to visualise their box and to describe a feeling, in one word. Mixed reactions; “safe, happy, familiar, prison, mine, limiting, boring, peaceful, predictable, grounding, suffocating.” I then asked to describe the feeling of stepping out of the comfort zone and the reactions were also mixed; “freedom, risk, uncomfortable, adventure, inexperience, uncertainty, fear, anxiety, scary, butterflies in stomach, unknown.”
Leaving one’s comfort zone is not always easy and for some it simply is daunting and a huge challenge. Others, may not even be aware they are in a box. How many colleagues do you know who seem stagnate or stuck and have difficulties moving forward at work? How can you encourage them? Sometimes that is simply what they need, encouragement, another foundation in Life Coaching.
Five Tips to Empower Your Colleagues:
Curiosity: visualisation is a great tool to understand emotions and thoughts, become curious about their box and listen to their reactions.
Transparency: by sharing with them the big picture and goals, you provide encouragement and energy for them to take the first steps out.
Practice Risk: instead of them focusing on the outcomes, highlight their awareness of working in THIS moment, now.
Creativity: allow your colleagues to be creative and find new ways of solving problems. This will give them a sense of ownership, confidence and they will feel value.
Authenticity: set the example by doing it, not just saying it. Be yourself.
Ask yourself, what is it to be encouraging?
So after two months in the process, three retakes in different locations, two different crews, my video is finally done, what an achievement! It is just over one minute and the idea is that viewers can see who I am, what I look like and how I sound. Either you will like it and feel a connection towards me or you won’t. In Coaching, a connection with a Life Coach is vital.
This video took under three hours to film and the amount of mistakes I made, took probably two hours (or it seemed like it!). I forgot my lines, my words, my thoughts, I froze, I laughed, I was nervous and then I was simply tired.
Although the video came out well at the end, I decided to show my authentic self and add another 50 sec video about my Bloopers (mistakes I made). What you will see is the authentic me.
No one is perfect, we all try our best, we learn from our successes and failures, and we keep going. Humour is a value of mine and now, I want to honour it fully. It is important to be able to laugh, but it is even more important to be able to laugh at yourself!
Do you enjoy laughing at yourself?
First the actual video….
….and now my Bloopers!
Here I am sitting in my modest bedroom in what previously used to be a monk’s cell, in a seventeenth century Carmelite Monastery, in Western Hungary. For once I am not coaching but moderating a retreat and have a couple of hours to rest before dinner. It is quiet, the room is small, there is no phone, TV or Internet and I take a pen and paper and begin drafting this blog.
Solitude seems to be a recurring theme for me in the last 24 hours, as is awareness. Last night, I found myself alone in a part of a terminal, in the UK, after a 6 hour delay, boarding at midnight. As frustrating as the delay was, I somehow enjoyed the silence and being alone. My 1 hour airport WiFi was up and instead of re-registering, I opted for finishing some thoughts, preparing the retreat, reflecting on the week, reading some coaching material and enjoying my own company. On the plane, I disappeared into a Chopin world and woke up in Budapest. At 3.00am, I walked towards my car and drove off, no one in sight. Budapest was quiet, empty and beautiful. I felt totally alone as I snaked around the city streets. It was such a nice sensation that I rolled down my window and just soaked this feeling in. Two hours later, I had to wake, again in silence and solitude.
I recognised that being alone is a value that my husband and I share. We are socially quite active, another common value, but solitude is important to us and we wish that our children learn to appreciate that, as well. At home, we encourage the limited use of technology and keep the living room and bedrooms device free. We want our children to continue being creative with their hands and minds, to continue making conversations, to continue expressing their emotions in person and be comfortable with solitude and embrace it, not escape it towards technology, which they work with everyday at school. Technology is taking over lives and more and more people rather text than speak, type an emotion rather than express it physically, use diminutives rather than sentences and chat rather than talk. There is also fear in being alone for many people, and technology makes good company.
How do you value solitude? Is it a challenge for you to be alone and what do you do when you are alone? Notice how many hours a week you choose to use social media over solitude? What is your perspective on that?
Sherry Turkle presents a very good TED talk precisely on this topic titled “Connected but Alone”, well worth the watch! In Coaching, we often look at values and which values clients honour. Need to reconnect with yours? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
After my coaching session yesterday, I drove my children to a Halloween party, at the school, along the usual dark 2 lane road, busy with 17.30 traffic. A tailgater unnecessarily overtook me. I had to brake, so that he could squeeze in, without causing a serious accident ahead. He overtook the next car and my daughter asked “what is he doing? Is is worth it?” Traffic slowed down due to a bus, and the tailgater was just 2 cars ahead of me. He signaled left, to turn into the school parking lot. Having depicted children’s silhouettes, we wondered who this parent was, but left it at that.
Still in my coaching mindset, my curiosity turned to speed and is it worth the risk? With speed and risk, we get things done, we build, we achieve, we fail and we learn. We feel adrenaline, excitement, anxiety, confidence and fear and with this, we seem to gain even more speed and want more, just like this driver.
As we speed from one thing to the next, how much are we living “in the moment?” How can slowing down influence our lives, our health, our careers, our relationships and our risks? Most times, we don’t even realise how many opportunities we missed or how many people we have hurt unintentionally because we are speeding. Doing, doing, doing, and what about being, being NOW? Awareness, laughing, smiling, breathing, listening, noticing, sharing, loving, crying, smelling.
Imagine your life just 10% slower, what would that look like? Now imagine your life 50% slower.
What keeps you from slowing down and what is the risk to you?
I challenge you to “be in the moment” for 20 minutes and watch one of my favourite TED talks by Carl Honore’s “In Praise of Slowness.” A good reminder for us all and a goal to aim for.
(c) 2017 Anna Jankovich, all rights reserved.