BHABARATAM: Stay calm during emotional crises to bring out your best

“Words are not simply an expression of the self they help to create the self. In struggling to say what we are, we become what we say” — Thomas S. Kane

Situations can bring out the best or the worst in you. Whether you run your own enterprise or you provide services to those who run businesses, you will come across many situations that demand you to act or react.

Some situations may take a toll on your emotions that drive you to express yourself in a certain way. Consider a situation where someone just presented a new strategy for promoting your brand. And you realise there are some important aspects missing. And even before you realise, you just say, “You must be living in a some stone-age not to have used social media to launch the product.”

In this situation, he could instantly realise about missing out a key strategy, and you are so right, yet your expression can put him off completely.

In many cases, when emotions take the driver’s seat, your expressions and reactions may not be professional. Your ability to express yourself appropriately is compromised. There may be many situations in workplace, which may cause anger and disappointment.

Be it disappointment with the client or your supervisor, be troublesome co-worker or pressure of work, it is important for you to express yourself but responsibly.

Not expressing your concerns can wreck your connections with others and cause you harm because your emotions will stew and affect other aspects of work. What do you do in such situations? The only way out is to express, but express reasonably and responsibly.

Take time to gain some perspective

Before you let someone know how you feel, take out some time and think about the situation. Write down your thoughts on a piece of paper, if need be.

It is a very effective way of releasing all your emotions and frustrations. Write down even the negative thoughts, which you wouldn’t ever voice. When you do this you will have a better understanding of the situation. You will also realise if you were at fault.

Once you write down everything, read it once, and tear the paper. Now, based on what you realised, think of what you expect. What is the outcome you want? Deal with the matter accordingly.

In case you are still not sure of the way to handle the situation or you don’t want to write it all down, find someone whom you can confide in and seek support.

Speak with the person

“The expression one wears on the face is far more important than the clothes one wears on the back.”

If you are particularly upset with a person more than the situation, approach the person and ask if you could speak to them in person but privately.

A confidential setting enables you both to open up. It also shows that you regard their privacy and do not want a public debate. It shows that you respect the other person. That’s key in communication. Do not express what you feel in front of others. It is not professional.

Go with an open mind, don’t go with a specific agenda. While preparing for a debate or a discussion is important, judging the outcome of the same or pre-empting the outcome may hamper your expression.

Take the lead and responsibility

Saying “I” instead of “you” in your statements helps you come across as positive rather than intimidating. Instead of saying, “You shouldn’t have done this,” you can say, “I would have appreciated if it was done this way” This expression shows that you are keen on taking the lead and responsibility of the situation. This shows that you are open and does not put the other person in a fix.

They are not put in a defensive situation and are able to speak their mind. It is important for you to make sure you focus only on the issue at hand and not on other problems that you may have. You need to solve this problem first. It is the issue and not the person that needs discussion or resolution. When you solve the issues with the situation, issues with people automatically get resolved.

Keep calm

“Emotions are temporary states of mind, don’t let them permanently destroy you.”

Things usually go out of hand when you let your emotions take over you. Stay as calm as possible and try not to react based on your emotions. Sometimes you may not be the one to react sharply, you may be in caught in a situation when others put you on the defensive.

Try to maintain calm and see if you can suggest to take the discussion forward at another time. Sometimes, especially when you are pulled in situations and are caught off guard, it may be difficult to react appropriately. You may need time to analyse what happened. Give time to yourself, keep calm. Don’t let your emotions distract you from doing what needs to be done.

Control your emotions so they don’t control you. And when you cannot control your emotions atleast try and control your actions. A permanent decision made on a temporary emotion can hurt you in the long run, so keep calm and allow yourself some time.

Sriram is the Founder and Chief Mentor of Kuza Biashara Limited, a capacity building organization coaching youth and SME owners across Africa. Sri chairs Entrepreneurs’ Organisation for Africa. He can be reached @Sbharatam or