Thursday you had a discussion with a coworker who is not one of your favorite people. You have shared responsibility for a project and are working closely together. You managed to work out details of what’s to be done next, but you found the discussion irritating. You have spent the entire weekend rehashing the festering irritation in your mind.
While most things don’t get under your skin, this situation just won’t go away.
Why is it so irritating?
Reflecting on the conversation you realize that your views weren’t respected, and some of your ideas dismissed. You are unused to this kind of treatment from your coworkers. And it is especially galling from this particular person. Plus you have wasted a good weekend because you couldn’t push it out of your mind.
Instant, intense reactions are rarely about a current situation. When you go from 0-60 you are caught up in the past. Something they have said or the way they said it had triggered a memory that flashes into your mind as if it was yesterday.
During our shaping years, we absorb views and preferences from our experiences – the successes and setbacks. As well, the influencers in our lives who helped us resolve adversity, encouraged us to build character by pushing through difficult situations, and supported us while we dusted ourselves off when we were down helped to shape our views too. Each of us have a few vulnerabilities, and when triggered they can feel like a dentist’s drill hitting a nerve.
We can’t go back and change the way life unfolded. However, when triggered today you can reflect to find out what it’s connected to and where the intensity started.
Why is it so intense?
Only you have that answer. The sooner you name what it is or who it reminds you of, the more ability you have to turn the insight into useful self awareness. Sometimes it is a private matter to deal with internally. With today’s work pressures and diverse relationships, it’s a given that you will be triggered again. Self awareness will enable you to turn an unexpected reaction into an appropriate response.
Why lose another weekend?
Invest time in discerning whether you felt disrespected, or the other person’s behavior was disrespectful. There is quite a difference. When someone’s words hit a nerve, it’s up to you to determine why it has affected you emotionally. If it is deliberate on their part, then communication techniques can help you handle disrespectful behavior.
How to turn it off in one to two hours?
- Download: When someone says something that gets under your skin and it sticks in your mind like dog doo on a shoe – download it. Put your thoughts and feelings to paper or keyboard.
- Container: Intense emotions need feedback. Let the voices that are conversing in your head spill into a container other than your body. A notebook, tablet or computer. Trust that you will know when they are finished chattering.
- Questions: Give yourself some distance then return and ask a few final questions so you can pull the awareness and insight from your download. Something as simple as ‘What’s the message in this for me?’ or more specific once you get clear on what was triggered.
You have more control than you think. Use these three steps the next time, and you will have a better weekend.
When is the last time someone got under your skin?
How did you handle it?
Perhaps you are struggling with a trigger situation that you would like help to handle differently. On Wednesday evenings at 9 pm ET I coach participants through these situations. If you would like to join the call please optin through this link:
Attribution: Deposit Photos