Sometimes you get some bad news or criticism or just something that instantly fires you up. The instinct is to react immediately: to pick up the phone or to bang out a furious email in response.
In these situations, I apply two rules: The first one is to overcome the visceral reaction, the fight or flight mode. I hold my breath for 10 seconds. If I’m somewhere nice I look at the view, if not I close my eyes and think of something or someplace that makes me feel good.*
I take a mental step back.
Then I consider the situation again, it’s amazing how things look different after such a brief pause when you take away the fire of emotion and ask yourself the question “does this actually matter?”
If I’m not sure how or whether to react I then apply the second rule; the ‘sleep on it’ principle.
When you sleep you brain ‘backs up’ data. It sorts it and stores it. It also diffuses tension and separates emotion from information. To say that you can solve problems while you sleep is not an exaggeration.
A new day can make things look entirely different. The thing that felt like it was taking over your life is now completely insignificant or completely manageable…and you are probably glad that you didn’t end up screaming down the ‘phone.
*TIP: It may be tempting but I would advise against doing this in sales meetings.