My recent blog on how to turn a patronizing situation into your advantage sparked a lot of interest. Someone asked me if I can write a follow-on piece with specific techniques on how to gain this level of emotional maturity.
Flattered of course, but at the same time, I know that the level of emotional maturity I gained is mainly through experience. I am a big believer that experiences fuel your self-awareness.
Most people discover their resiliency and emotional maturity during adversity.
So accepting this request was going to be challenging. I love challenges!
Here are my 7 tips which may work or resonate with you which you can use as a starting point! Ready? Go!!
1. Anticipate difficult situations
No one has a crystal ball and looking into the future is a lost cause. What you can do however is anticipate a situation going off road and ask your self how you would react. Try to imagine and experience the emotions of such a situation all by yourself.
Build on an experience of the past and feel how that made you react? What would you do differently? Why would you do this differently? Write it down in your journal.
This will help you create a mental model to help you respond next time instead of reacting.
2. Breathe while counting to ten
Some situations will get your blood boiling at 300 degree Celsius while your head turns into a tomato. Lashing out and saying things you will never ever be able to take back can be very tempting and cause instant relief.
Reputational damage is almost always guaranteed! Instead, just breathe deeply and walk away. With an assertive and polite voice tone communicate you will finish this conversation at a different time.
When they go low, we go high! Michelle Obama
3. Listen to understand
Often we listen to speak or to have our points come across immediately. Especially if your ego is in overflow or when you are the boss. As the boss knows best, right?
People often wonder how I build and sustain the network I have. I have one simple rule that I always use, and it works like a charm for every single individual:
I leave my ego at the door! I listen to understand not to impress.
You will be surprised if you listen without expectations how fast your blood pressure drops and you will soon start seeing things from a different perspective.
4. Don’t take it personally
Building on the ego problem, which is the cause of almost all the misery in this world, what helps developing emotional maturity is not to take things personally. Detach yourself from the situation.
Imagine the person in front of you who is yelling or being mean and picture him dumping his garbage in front of you. Because he or she reached a point where their garbage can is too full, and they need a place to unload. And that place is unfortunately you!
5. Don’t make it personal
Arguments or difficult conversations get worse when you make the other person directly responsible. For example, how would you feel when someone blames you directly for a situation by using words like..this is your fault, or you should do it, or you did not listen in the first place, you….you…you. You will probably lose it, right? Try using language which articulates feelings without blame.
I feel belittled every time we talk about this subject. I know you don’t mean it this way. It would mean a great deal to me if you can stop using this type of language.
You are clearly articulating your discontent without blame and shaming the other person.
And a special tip for the ladies: men are not allergic to emotions if you can communicate how you feel without blaming them!
6. Master your voice tone
Over 90% of conflict is due to voice tone, and only 10% is related to an actual argument. When you raise your voice, you automatically trigger the animal instinct in your self and in others. Both of you turn into jungle cats ready for attack!
Master your voice tone, keep calm and let the other boil down. Then you try to have a professional conversation. If this does not work, use tip number two!
7. Imagine long-term over short-term
This is a difficult one and is closely linked with tip number one. When we let our shadow-self prevail, we often feel instant gratification and lose sight of long-term implications. You can quickly burn your bridges and never be able to take back what you said.
Once a glass is broken you will always see its cracks, no matter how many times you try to repair it.
Train yourself to keep whatever is popping up in your mind, far away from your mouth.
Instead, breathe and remind yourself that it is not worth the damage. Remind yourself you will never be able to take back what you said and tell yourself that in the end, you are the one who will be brushed off as being unprofessional.
And trust me, there is nothing more frustrating for the other party when you got your act together when they don’t!
I hope some of these tips are helpful for building your emotional maturity. Don’t be tough on yourself when you fail in keeping it together. Remember, every day we get to hit the reset button and try again. Try to be the best version of yourself, little by little, day by day!