How to Keep Your Cool When You Feel Attacked
It’s no fun. You’re in a meeting and suddenly someone verbally criticizes you in a style and manner that feels more like an attack than anything else. Sooner or later we all face these types of challenges in business where someone forgets the Golden Rule of Accountability that says “Attack the problem, not the person.” Effective leaders learn how to manage these situations by keeping their cool and controlling their emotions. If you’re noticing you have challenges with how to respond to attacks, take action around this aspect of your leadership. Responding to these attacks with grace, tact and confidence will project a more competent you.
Here are a few ways to help make this happen:
First ask, “Am I truly being attacked?” It’s possible you are. But this is important because often we feel like we’re being attacked when, in reality, we’re being overly defensive. Pay attention to your gut on this issue. Do some self-examination around where your defensive behavior is coming from and why. And if you’re still not sure? Get feedback from someone who will be honest with you about whether you are defensive or not. If you are, you’ll need to take some corrective actions around your own emotional behavior.
Grow your emotional intelligence. Years ago, I received some feedback around my own defensive tendencies. Truth was, when I got the feedback, it was hard to hear because there were deficits around my emotional intelligence and communication skills. Fortunately, I felt motivated to change and took action to do so. If you get the same feedback, whether from another person or your own inner voice, take it to heart because defensive behaviors can quickly derail leadership potential. Fortunately, there are a number of resources (professional coaching, books, blogs, seminars, etc.) and strategies you can use to improve your emotional intelligence.
Get help from a leadership coach. If emotional intelligence and communication are aspects of your leadership you could improve, try building some accountability around it with the help of an executive leadership coach. (If you’re a MAP client, discuss this with your MAP consultant if you haven’t already done so.) While these areas of your leadership might feel like they’re somewhat intangible or not “measurable,” there are ways to set goals, track and measure your goals, and get results relative to these leadership traits and skills. That said, if your emotional intelligence is in good shape and yet you’re still experiencing attacks, a professional leadership coach can certainly help you trouble-shoot the issue, empower you to develop viable solutions, and manage it in ways that deliver more effective results. Bottom line, sometimes we need to go beyond ourselves for this kind of support and guidance. Expertise and accountability are what make the difference.
How do you let go of anger and stay calm in frustrating situations?