HIDE YOUR GOAT – THREE STEPS TO SELF-CONTROL (Especially during the Holidays!)

by Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA

self-controlSome people have been put on this earth to get your goat, to push your buttons, and to make you lose control. Have you developed communication tools that help you maintain self-control? Or do you allow others to pull the strings that light the fuse of anger? Have you learned to hide your goat?  Because they can’t get your goat if you don’t tell them where it’s tied up.

Here are three strategies to self-control:

Step #1 – Take a deep breath
Step #2 – Take a mental timeout
Step #3 – Switch to left brain thinking

Step #1 Breathe
When they ‘get your goat’ you are reverting to the fight or flight response. Your breathing changes because the human body is readying itself to beat someone up (fight) or run like heck (flight). When your breathing changes, you typically inhale only about 20% of the oxygen needed to put the brain in gear. The fuse is lit and we spiral out of control, giving the other person the control. The goal is to get oxygen to our brain so we can think clearly – step #1 is critical. Take a deep breath.

Step #2 – Take a Mental Timeout
Count to 10 slowly and to yourself. This can be incorporated with Step #1 and can be done at the same time. The mental timeout allows us time to regroup and refocus. Simply count to ten slowly and to yourself. In the moment the situation seems so critical – in the long run – it is just a very small speck in the path of life. And typically, it takes us a minimum of 2 hours to regain control after we have lost it!

Step #3 – Switch to Left Brain
Have you ever noticed how after an emotionally impacted event you can think of exactly what words to use? The right brain is the creative and innovative side of our thinking. This is also where much of our trepidation, emotions, and fear live. We have pessimistic voices (I call them mental terrorists) talking negatively to us when we feel out of control. We need to learn to manipulate our own thinking – train our brain.

The left brain is very structured, strategic, and linear. It is also where our words and language are housed. If I memorize and store some words that I can pull out of my toolbox – I will be focused on better managing the situation and staying in control! Here is what to memorize: – This is a test, this is only a test, this will not be important in 10 years – or make it 100 years. Dr. Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, because it’s all Small Stuff – says make it 100 years because then it really won’t be important because we won’t even be here.

So, the key to hiding our goat is not to get angry, frustrated, or mad either at ourselves or at another person. Remember, they can’t get your goat if you don’t tell them where it’s tied up!

Many people today want everything yesterday and expect the ultimate in quality. They have unreasonable requests with deadlines that are unrealistic. If we are going to keep airport customers, members, and people ‘delighted with our services,’ we must develop tremendous self-control.

As customer service oriented employees, we must first look at who is our customer. EVERYONE we touch during the course of a day becomes a customer – not just the people using the services of your group, business, or association, but EVERYONE.

Is your boss your client? Better be – especially at appraisal time. How about your vendors? Sure! In time of need, they will be more apt to ‘help you out.’ How about other employees? Absolutely! We never know when we may have to call on them for a special favor! They are all your clients – which means we must stay in control to provide all of these groups with the best customer service available.

Cheers, Marsha

Professional Speaker, Executive Coach and Best-Selling Author
Contact Marcia Snow for information on having Marsha speak to your group.

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