The other day I was part of a group having a conversation.  We were sitting around a table enjoying a break in our day over a cup of coffee.  One of the participants made a couple of comments that most people found humorous and then all of a sudden one person jumped up, made a caustic comment and stormed out, looking very angry.  The rest of us became silent, wondering what had just happened.

As I reflected on the situation I realized that someone had made a comment that the angry person had interpreted differently than the rest of us.  Her perspective, based on her background and experience, was such that she took a different meaning from the comments than the rest of us.  How often has this happened to you?

Think back.  Someone in conversation with you makes a comment that pushes your emotional buttons.  You begin to feel uncomfortable and attempt to protect yourself. As soon as you feel those buttons, you may want to escape.  You want out of the conversation and out of the relationship. The voice in your head is saying “get me out of here!”.  Or maybe you ignore what the person is saying and continue to want to revive a dying relationship.  Think of a partnership where one person is over it and the other just can’t let go.

What Happens When Emotional Buttons Get Pushed?

Referring to EQ in Action (Learning in Action Technologies) people who think this way tend to have low trust in self and others.  When their emotional buttons get pushed, although they may have awareness around this, they lack the ability to manage their emotions.  They are not able to self soothe, abruptly dismissing and abandoning others.  Conversely they may stay too long in the relationship because they cannot see any other option available to them.  Either response can prove to be very disruptive for others who may see them as completely unpredictable and unreliable.  This is not an effective way for a leader to be perceived by others.

Probably everyone can think of an experience they have had that sounds like this.  I know I have.  In fact, at one time in my life, I was like this.  I would try to escape as soon as the going got rough.  With time I have learned to trust myself and others.

Here are 5 ways to build trust in self and others while in relationship:

  1. Be Self-Aware:  Several times a day check in on how you are feeling.  Take note.  If feeling good, what does this feel like?  If not, list the feelings that are surfacing for you.  Think about the probable triggers for these emotions.
  2. Self-Manage:  If you have been reading these blogs and developing a practice, you will already know how to access a calming strategy that works for you.  Access it.  Think about how you feel once you have accessed it.  If effective, you will feel more able to connect with intention, feeling calm. If you haven’t identified a calming strategy, take the time to find one that works for you in the moment.  That could be visualizing a place where you feel tranquil, taking a few deep breaths, retreating to solitude for a few minutes to name a few.  Find one that works for you.
  3. Reflect:  What does trust mean to you?  Think about what you do to begin to build more trust in yourself.  Knowing you can manage your emotions, for example, may help you rely more on yourself.  Set an intention around this so you can build self trust.
  4. Get Curious:  Now that you are beginning to develop trust in yourself, get curious about others.  What does trust in others look like for you? Make a list of those people whom you trust and why.  When you are able to rely on others, consider how this builds trust for you and enhances connection.
  5. Set Intention:  Once you become aware of those you trust and those you don’t, set an intention around how you want to show up around each group.  Focus on self trust and connecting with those you trust.  Be aware and self manage your emotions when in conversation with those you don’t trust.

Being able to self soothe and remain calm will help you stay in conversation, even with those for whom you have little trust.  As a leader, others will begin to see you as calm, consistent, and emotionally predictable.

Kathy Taberner

Kathy Taberner

Co-Founder of The Institute Of Curiosity

Kathy Taberner is a retired occupational therapist, Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with a MA in leadership and training.  With her daughter, she is a co-founder of the Institute of Curiosity and co-author of the ‘Power of Curiosity’. She is committed to supporting women to strive to become the dynamic and successful leaders they want to be.  Her research project for her Masters explored the leadership styles and emotional intelligence of senior female leaders in BC.

She and her husband of many years, share their time between the Okanagan and Vancouver.

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