• Herb Cohen

"I Almost Blew it": What to do When You're Triggered at Work

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

Listening carefully is essential to earning trust. Even with our best intentions, listening is not always easy, especially when we are triggered.


During a first session with a new client, he came into my office and took command right from the start. Not aggressively, but with authority. I liked his style and was also taken aback. More taken aback.


“This is my turf, not yours," I said to myself.


Reacting as I did made it impossible for me to listen to him. I didn’t realize that, and as a result, could have lost a client. Normally what I do in this type of situation is ask myself, “what is going with me?" and “why am I reacting so strongly?" I decided to call my client later that day. I asked him how he felt about the session.


He said, "For the most part it was good" and also said "There was a point in the conversation where I thought you weren’t listening to me and I was offended."


I apologized and told him he was correct. He appreciated my honesty, though I didn’t know how this would affect our relationship moving forward. I am still coaching him and things are progressing nicely.


No matter what your career, situations like this can be quite common. Here is my 3 step process to help when you feel triggered by someone at work:

  1. STOP: Push the pause button like you would on your DVR and don’t say anything. Knowing that if you do, things will likely go bad.

  2. CHALLENGE: Ask yourself, "Why am I reacting so strongly?" This is likely a patterned reaction. Identifying your trigger is absolutely necessary.

  3. CHOOSE: From a non-reactive position you can ask yourself, how do I want to respond? You are now in charge, not your reaction.

Listening means paying attention to your client, colleague, customer AND, especially, to yourself.

Listening carefully is essential to earning trust. Even with our best intentions, listening is not always easy, especially when we may feel triggered.

© 2019 Herb Cohen Executive Coaching Site  |  By Altitude LLC

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