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